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Charges laid over Mildura vegetation clearing

A man has been charged over the destruction of more than 8 hectares of native vegetation on public land adjacent to his property, near Mildura in the state’s North West.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021 at 1:50 am

The man faces 215 charges under the Land Act 1958, Forest Act 1958, and Wildlife Regulations 2013, including the destruction of wildlife habitat.

Acting Loddon Mallee Regulatory Regional Manager, Georgia de Salis, said in January 2021, Authorised Officers from the Conservation Regulator received reports of large-scale vegetation clearing on public land in a town near Mildura.

Authorised Officers attended the location in February 2021 and reported approximately 8.4 hectares of vegetation was either heavily damaged or destroyed, including over 100 large Mallee trees, some estimated to be "hundreds of years old”, Ms de Salis said.

“Officers also reported a fence was constructed across a section of public land which ‘fenced in’ the area to the accused’s private property.

“It is alleged the man used heavy plant machinery and hand tools to fell or damage over 130 trees and large amounts of low-lying vegetation.

“Removal of native vegetation is devastating for biodiversity.  

“Native vegetation provides habitat for native animals and delivers a range of ecosystem services such as, soil formation and creation of clean air.

“In Victoria, it is illegal to remove or destroy vegetation on public land without authorisation.

“A permit is required to remove or alter native vegetation on private land. These regulations are known as the Native Vegetation Removal Regulations and are primarily implemented through local council planning schemes.

“This complex investigation involved a large amount of evidence and multiple expert witnesses and would not have been possible without the participation of multiple internal teams from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Conservation Regulator and the Mildura Rural City Council.”

The most serious offence carries a fine of up to $9,087 and/one year imprisonment. The man is set to face Mildura Magistrates Court in January.

Anyone with information about environmental crime is urged to contact DELWP on 136 186. Callers can remain anonymous.

Conservation Regulator Victoria