Landholder fined for damage to river bank

Thursday 22 August, 2019
A 60-year-old Buxton man was ordered to pay a total of $7500 and placed under a good behaviour bond after he illegally cleared Crown land beside the Steavenson River near Buxton.

The Seymour Magistrates Court heard the man was caught using an excavator to clear crown land between the property where he was working and the river.

The court heard the defendant was seen by officers from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GB CMA) stockpiling 14 large heaps of timber logs and stumps.

The man also admitted to digging a deep trench 10 to 15 metres from the water’s edge.

Magistrate Stella Stuthridge ordered the defendant to pay $5000 in costs to the GB CMA and donate $2500 to a drought charity.

He was also placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to eight charges.

The man’s lawyer told the court his client had shown great remorse and had no prior convictions.

He said the prosecution had already served as a general deterrent because people in the community were aware of the proceedings.

The defendant was caught red-handed by the GB CMA after information was passed on from an angler on the river.

VR FISH executive officer Mike Burgess said it was pleasing to hear that a fisherman had been responsible for alerting authorities to the illegal activity.

“We want to encourage anglers to take increased stewardship over their favourite fishing spots and that involves making sure everyone is following the rules,” Mr Burgess said.

“It reminds anglers to keep an eye out for illegal work along riparian zones while fishing in Victorian rivers and streams.”

He congratulated the GB CMA for launching the action, adding landholders often needed reminding about their responsibilities.

“The waterways are shared assets. Just because you’re a landholder along the river doesn’t mean the river belongs to you. It belongs to everyone.

“It’s in our interest to make sure there is no illegal activity along riparian zones because if we look after the habitat, the fishery will look after itself.”

GB CMA CEO Chris Norman said he was pleased with the outcome and hoped it would serve as a reminder to landholders to make sure they get the correct permits and licences before undertaking works near waterways.

“This action proves we are prepared to go after individuals who do the wrong thing,” Mr Norman said.

“This is just the first step. The defendant now has to set about repairing the significant damage he’s caused.”