Croppa Creek family ordered to replant

THE family of a man accused of the murder of an environmental compliance officer have been given strict new orders to remediate land illegally cleared, after a judge ruled on an appeal.

As their father and grandfather, 79-year-old Ian Robert Turnbull, was behind bars charged with the murder of Glen Turner in Croppa Creek last week, Grant Wesley Turnbull and Corey Ian Turnbull were facing their own case in the Land and Environment Court.

The latest events come as the murder accused prepares to return to court this morning in Moree for only the second time since the alleged shooting murder of Mr Turner. 

Turnbull has been in custody since being refused bail on July 30.

However, last Thursday, Chief Justice Brian Preston upheld an appeal by the younger Turnbulls in the Land and Environment Court against the Director-General of the Office of Environment and Heritage to carry out work to repair damage caused by the clearing of native vegetation across two properties at Croppa Creek.

Ian Turnbull was charged with illegally clearing native vegetation between November, 2011 and January, 2012 and subsequently pleaded guilty in court to clearing 421 hectares on his son’s property Colarado, and 73 hectares on Strathdoon, owned by his grandson.

Trees were pushed over and set alight before commercial crops of wheat and barley were sown and are still currently under crop.

A judge remains reserved on the penalty but Corey and Grant Turnbull appealed the remediation works direction.

Justice Preston upheld the appeal on June 25 but sent the parties away to discuss the final terms. The court heard last week they had agreed on most terms.

In the new remediation order, handed down on Thursday, the Turnbulls have been given a reprieve to harvest the crops on the properties which hadbeen sown on the illegally cleared land.

According to the judgment handed down, Grant and Corey Turnbull now have until December 31 to harvest the crop areas before “the exclusion of commercial crops in the remediation areas should apply”.

Grant and Corey had requested a contraction of some of the boundaries surrounding the area that had to be remediated because it had two financial consequences, citing “the loss of agricultural land and hence income, and second, the higher cost of direct planting and maintenance”.

Justice Preston said the refinements which were granted would “reduce the areas of cleared land within the remediation areas”.

Under the ruling, by 2017, the density of the native vegetation in the remediation area must be at least 100 live stems on average per hectare otherwise “the landholder must direct seed or establish and maintain a number of seedlings or plants to bring the density of native vegetation” up to that level.

This has to be completed by 2018 but it could be extended if the property is drought declared.

Under the remediation order, the landholders must also keep a number of orders and report to the office of Environment and Heritage after inspections.

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