The NSW Land and Environment Court has upheld the conviction and sentence imposed on the owner and operator of a macadamia farm in Brooklet.
Macadamia farmer William Moore was found guilty of using a pesticide along Friday Hut Road, Brooklet, in a manner that caused injury, following a prosecution by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The original sentence was the recording of a conviction and the imposition of a fine of $2,000 plus several thousand dollars in costs.
EPA Director Regulatory Operations Steve Orr, said the EPA had commenced the prosecution after a person driving a car on a public road was exposed to pesticide spray drift being used at Wingvale Farm.
‘This person suffered injuries including headaches, nausea and restricted breathing,’ said Mr Orr.
On appeal from an earlier decision of the Byron Bay Local Court, the Land and Environment Court found Mr Moore guilty of one charge of using the pesticide Diazinon in a manner that caused injury to a person.
High standard of care was necessary
Justice Pain found that as the spraying occurred as part of a commercial operation that a high standard of care was necessary. Justice Pain also found that there were reasonable precautions that should have been taken at Wingvale Farm, which included notifying neighbours prior to spraying and only spraying in suitable weather conditions.
The Land and Environment Court upheld the sentence imposed against Mr Moore in the earlier Local Court proceedings, requiring him to pay a fine and the EPA’s legal and investigation costs totalling almost $15,000. Mr Moore was also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of the appeal itself.
Sending a strong message
Mr Orr said the Court’s decision sent a strong message to all pesticide users to consider the safety of the local community and the environment.
‘It is important that anyone who uses pesticides, particularly in or near residential areas, uses them correctly and safely.
‘Safe pesticide use relies on users spraying in appropriate weather conditions, following the label instructions and considering the health impacts when applying pesticide.’
The EPA investigates all reports of potential pesticide breaches and encourages anyone with a concern, or knowledge of illegal spraying in their local area, to contact the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.