A landholder in Dubbo has been fined, and investigations launched into a Hawkesbury landowner, following charges by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) of unlawful water take and pumping.

A landholder in the Dubbo area has been fined a total of $18,900, ordered to remove an unlawful dam and ordered to pay prosecution costs of $30,000 in Dubbo Local Court.

The landholder pleaded guilty to and was convicted of three charges brought by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) relating to taking water without a licence, extending a dam without approval and failing to comply with directions, which included dewatering and removing the dam.

The landholder was fined $9,000 for the water take, $5,400 for the dam extension and $4,500 for failing to comply with a direction to dewater and remove the dam.

The first two offences took place between November 2015 and June 2018, and the third in March 2019.

Taking water without a licence contravenes section 60A(2) of the Water Management Act 2000; constructing a water supply work without approval is an offence under s91B(1) of the WM Act and failure to comply with a direction contravenes s336C of the Act.

In early March 2020, NRAR also launched its 18th prosecution of a Hawkesbury landowner in Windsor Local Court, facing charges relating to unlawful water take from South Creek.

The landholder is facing six charges regarding taking water without a licence, using water in an unauthorised way, using an unauthorised pump, contravening an order to stop using the pump and not supplying information when requested.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in 2018 and 2019 and contravene sections 60A(2), s91A(1), s91G(2), s91B(1), Part 7, and s340A(1) of the Water Management Act 2000.

NRAR’s Chief Regulatory Officer, Grant Barnes, praised NRAR’s legal team, their colleagues in the Crown Solicitor’s Office, and NRAR’s investigators for their work ensuring that those who have flouted water laws are held to account.

“This is the 18th case NRAR has brought to prosecution, and there are several more cases in the wings,” Mr Barnes said.

“The decision to take this action is not made lightly by NRAR, which weighs up the harm caused, culpability, public interest and attitude to compliance.

“With NSW still doing it tough in drought, having a strong and independent regulator is essential to protecting water supply and security. Bringing such cases to court is part of NRAR’s tool kit for delivering a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance system aimed at preventing unlawful water take.”

NRAR’s investigators and compliance officers travel all over the state’s 58 water sharing plan areas, inspecting properties and assessing compliance with water users’ licences and the Water Management Act 2000.

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