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Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts

Company pays $200,000 for grassland clearing

Media release
25 November 2009

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In a win for the environment, a construction company will pay a total of $200,000 towards conservation initiatives after breaching national and Victorian environment laws at an industrial site in Ardeer, Melbourne.

Bridge and Marine Australia agreed to sign a $30,000 enforceable undertaking with the federal environment department as an alternative to the matter going to court.

The undertaking follows a departmental investigation into the company clearing protected native grasslands and causing a significant impact on nationally threatened species at an industrial construction storage area.

The company has also previously agreed to a separate undertaking between the company and the Victorian government to pay $170,000 as penalty for the legal breaches.

Departmental spokesman Michael Smith said the undertaking was a good result and the best way forward for the environment.

“An enforceable undertaking is a negotiated outcome which avoids a lengthy and adversarial court process, and gets a good outcome for the environment—that is the main priority,” Mr Smith said.

“By coming to this agreement we can see a significant amount of money put back into the environment and towards the recovery of the affected threatened species.

“This does not detract from environmental loss, and the department will continue to take seriously and investigate any breaches of national environment law, including the destruction of matters of national environmental significance.”

The department’s investigation found that 0.7 hectares of the critically endangered natural temperate grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain were destroyed during works at the industrial site. The destroyed grasslands also served as important habitat for the critically endangered spiny rice flower, and the vulnerable striped legless lizard.

Under the federal enforceable undertaking, Bridge and Marine Australia must now pay $30,000 to the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment for the conservation and recovery of the affected species.

Mr Smith said this was a good reminder for people and companies to check whether federal government approval was required for any activities or projects that could impact on nationally protected species or grasslands.

For more information, visit www.environment.gov.au/epbc/approval.html

Media contact: 02 6275 9243