$70,000 fine for illegal dumping
BYRON BAY demolition contractor Michael Hume Fletcher was hit with a $70,000 fine, and ordered to pay Byron Shire Council’s $70,000 legal bill, after being found guilty of transporting and dumping waste illegally at his Raywards Lane property.
Lawyer Ralph James, for the council, led the successful prosecution in a year-long court case of matters stretching back five years. Fletcher, represented by lawyer Owen Hughes, always maintained his innocence in the matters.
In the Lismore Local Court yesterday Magistrate Nicholas Reimer found Fletcher, the owner of Byron Bay Earthmoving, guilty of four offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act: Unlawful transporting of waste to his land; using land as a waste facility without lawful authority; failing to comply with a clean-up notice of waste deposited in Raywards Lane; and failing to comply with a prevention notice.
In his findings Mr Reimer stated the defence argument expanded the case into ‘a complex and confusing matter’ and created volumes of submissions.
Mr Reimer found Fletcher’s land at Skinners Shoot had been used to store and accumulate rubbish, waste, refuse and ‘all manner of detritus’, for which he had received no consent from council, and with a history of complaints regarding his activities going back some years.
“It is clear to me, on the evidence, that the defendant used the premises as a waste facility,” Mr Reimer said.
“It was not a case of an untidy landholder who stored some unwanted bits and pieces on his land.
“I find as a fact that it was being used as a waste facility.
“I find there was no lawful authority for this use.
“It is clear to me that Mr Fletcher’s attitude is that he can do as he pleases on his property and that the objections of citizens to his activities, the existence of prior undertakings to council, the issuing of warnings and requests from council can all be equally ignored.”
Mr Reimer said building rubble had been also dumped by Fletcher on the side of Raywards Lane in 2008 and then spread on the road.
Fletcher had also pleaded guilty to the removal of trees from the same property in a previous court hearing.
Fletcher faces other matters which will be mentioned in court today.