FARMERS are railing against the practises of the Department of Conservation and Land Management highlighted by the recent prosecution of Narembeen farmer Alan Yandle.
Mr Yandle was charged with allegedly breaking a branch on land damaged by salt and acid minerals.
CALM has filed two charges against him, both of which can draw up to an $8,000 fine.
The damage is said to have occurred when he improved a track on the Sea Groatt reserve between Narembeen and Bruce Rock.
Ironically, Mr Yandle had been improving the track so that a bus carrying farmers and CALM officials could gain access to the site.
WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl and Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia property rights chairman Craig Underwood have hit out at the charges.
Indeed, Mr Nicholl said the CALM charges against Mr Yandle were just the tip of the iceberg.
WAFarmers is currently putting together a dossier of the number of similar prosecutions CALM has levelled against farmers.
The organisation knows of two so far, including one against one of its former beef section presidents.
“If this is not a clear example of an inexcusable abuse of power, I am yet to see one,” Mr Nicholl said.
“In the examples to date it is apparent that because the fines being imposed for these breaches are not overly onerous, farmers have copped it sweet.
“However, there is a principle involved here and these actions set a dangerous precedent for the yet to be tested offence of environmental harm as it is contained within the recently sanctioned Environmental Protection Amendment Bill.”
Mr Underwood said CALM’s move to prosecute Mr Yandle and talks at the PGA with the Department of Environmental Protection on the regulations being proposed for the new “environmental harm” legislation confirmed a rising contempt for private land ownership by the State Government.
“These new rules confer enormous new powers of interpretation on bureaucrats and are based on totally impractical rules and regulations,” he said.
“The PGA foresees a massive increase in litigation as farmers such as Alan Yandle and the farmers of Binnu try to defend their property and management rights.
“The new laws turn private property rights on their head, yet they have been driven by the Green minority and implemented without adequate community consultation.”
CALM director general Kieran McNamara could not be contacted for comment
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