Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
Company pays out for grassland clearing
17 March 2010
An investment company will pay $62,000 towards conservation research and protect up to 13 hectares of threatened species habitat after breaching national environment law.
Cromwell Property Securities agreed to the enforceable undertaking under national environment law with the federal environment department as an alternative to the matter going to court.
Departmental spokeswoman Rose Webb said the undertaking followed a departmental investigation into the company damaging nearly half a hectare of the nationally threatened natural temperate grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain at Altona North, Victoria.
This is the best possible result for the environment under the circumstances, Ms Webb said.
Instead of going through a lengthy court process, we have negotiated for Cromwell Property Securities to pay $62,000 to the Victorian environment department for research into the affected ecological community.
The company will also provide an offset of up to 13 hectares of habitat to be protected and managed into the future.
The damaged grassland has significant ecological values, providing habitat for several threatened species, including the striped legless lizard.
Cromwell Property Securities removed boulders from native grasslands without approval under national environmental law. The proposed development site is now undergoing federal assessment.
Not only did the machinery cause damage to the grassland, but the boulders were an integral part of the grassland, creating important habitat and microclimates.
The department takes breaches of national environment law seriously, and will investigate and pursue them.
Ms Webb said this was a good reminder for people and companies to check whether federal government approval was required for any activity that could have an impact on nationally protected species or grasslands.
For more information got to www.environment.gov.au/epbc/approval.html