Man fined $70k for illegal waste

BYRON BAY businessman Michael Hume Fletcher was fined $10,000 yesterday after being convicted of illegally removing trees at his property.

It follows his $70,000 fine on Monday after being found guilty of using his property as a waste facility.

His costs are expected to exceed $200,000 with Magistrate Nicholas Reimer also ordering Fletcher to clean up his property within 28 days from the date of conviction.

The businessman, who owns Byron Bay Earthmoving, faces the huge bill after Mr Reimer also ordered him to pay the $70,000 costs of Byron Shire Council and its legal team, led by lawyer Ralph James; and to pay a further $43,000 to the council to cover its clean-up and administration costs.

Fletcher must also meet his own legal costs, as well as his clean-up costs.

The decision by Mr Reimer in the Lismore Local Court follows a successful and lengthy prosecution by Byron Shire Council over Fletcher’s illegal transportation of waste which he then dumped on his property at Skinners Shoot.

Fletcher also used demolition rubble as road fill on Raywards Lane without the authorisation of council.

Fletcher, a demolition contractor, did not attend Lismore Local Court yesterday because of ill health, but was represented by defence lawyer Owen Hughes.

Fletcher yesterday pleaded guilty to illegally removing between 30 and 40 trees without consent from his land in October 2008.

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, Fletcher was convicted on Monday of four charges: unlawful transporting and depositing of waste; use of land as a waste facility; failure to comply with a council clean-up notice (waste on Raywards Lane); and failure to comply with a prevention notice.

Orders were officially made to Fletcher yesterday, received by Mr Hughes for his client, that all waste and recyclable materials be removed and deposited at a licensed waste facility.

Prior to transportation and disposal of the waste all tyres, batteries, oil, scrapmetal, building rubble, green waste, glass, recyclable plastics and chemical drums are to be separated.

Receipts from the licensed waste facility are to be provided to Byron Shire Council as proof of disposal.

Mr Hughes said his client was "almost certain to appeal all decisions".

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