Developer ordered to pay $184k restitution

A MISCOMMUNICATION between consultants which resulted in illegal land clearing has cost a Tamworth property development company $184,000 in restitution imposed by a federal government department.

Tamworth’s Marloelle Pty Ltd agreed to enter into an “enforceable undertaking” with the Federal government at the end of last month for illegal land clearing of a 4.5-hectare site over a three-year period at Windmill Hill Estate.

Two of Marloelle’s partners, Tamworth’s Mark and Loanna Single, own and operate one of the city’s biggest and most prominent construction companies, Single Builders.

It is understood Single Builders had been engaged by Marloelle to build at the estate, but it had not been involved in the clearing process. 

The clearing occurred between November 2008 and July 2011 at the residential estate near Moore Creek.

Marloelle was found to have wrongfully cleared 4.5 hectares of land that was home to an ecological community known as white box, yellow box and Blakely’s red gum woodland and derived native grasslands.

The white box woodland is the same ecological land that North West environment groups say is under threat from coalmining expansion in the Gunnedah Basin.

The woodland is present in four Australian states and territories but less than 5 per cent is considered good quality.

A Marloelle Pty Ltd spokesman yesterday said the issues with clearing grasses from the small section of the Windmill Hill Estate arose out of a miscommunication between consultants engaged by the company.

“When Marloelle became aware, it voluntarily reported the issue to the responsible government department and then co-operated fully in the investigation and speedy resolution of the matter,” he said.

Marloelle will pay $184,000 in five instalments over a 10-year period – the earliest payments due within a month of the undertaking – to manage weeds on the remaining affected land, to research the threats affecting the ecological community, and to rehabilitate a portion of that community on site.

In a statement from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities yesterday, it was reported that the developer co-operated with departmental officers through the investigation before accepting the undertaking.

A department spokeswoman said the agreement was a negotiated outcome and prevented a costly and adversarial court process.

The Marloelle spokesman said the Windmill Hill Estate had been a great success so far and future stages remained on time and materially unaffected.

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