Fine imposed for disposing of asbestos without a valid environmental authority

Elton Morais, Senior Associate, Brisbane
Stafford Hopewell, Partner, Brisbane
Hannah Brown, Solicitor

Mr Wayne Wharton was convicted of 65 offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and fined $25,000 and ordered to pay legal and investigation costs of around $3,000 by the Ipswich Magistrates Court for carrying out an environmentally relevant activity without a valid environmental authority.  

Implications         

  • It is an offence under section 426 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to carry out an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority which attracts a maximum penalty of 4,500 penalty units ($567,675 for an individual).
  • If an individual has been convicted of an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the conviction has been recorded, the Chief Executive may refuse any future application the individual makes to carry out an environmentally relevant activity.
  • In determining the appropriate penalty to impose, the Court had regard to the early guilty plea that was entered in by Mr Wharton, the maximum penalty available for the offence, the purpose of the Environmental Protection Act 1994, the previous warnings received by Mr Warton from the Department and his personal and financial circumstances.

Decision

Mr Wharton transported asbestos to New Chum and Swanbank between October 2015 and August 2016 on a number of occasions without holding an environmental authority and despite having been warned by the Department not to carry out the activity on a number of occasions. In total, over 150 tonnes of asbestos was transported however no actual harm had been caused. The transportation of asbestos is an environmentally relevant activity (ERA 57). Mr Wharton’s environmental authority had been suspended as he had failed to pay the annual fees for the environmentally relevant activity.   

At the sentence hearing of Mr Wharton, the Court convicted Mr Wharton of 65 offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and fined Mr Wharton $25,000, ordered him to pay legal and investigation costs of around $3,000 and recording the conviction. In determining the appropriate penalty, the Court had regard to the following:

  • the early guilty plea;
  • the maximum penalty available for the offence;
  • the purpose of the Environmental Protection Act 1994;
  • the repeated warnings received from the Department; and
  • the personal and financial circumstances of Mr Wharton. 

Yes

 


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