Sumary of ‘Slap on the wrist’: Farmers fume as Whitehaven Coal fined $200,000 for water theft:
- Farmers in north-west New South Wales say they are outraged at a fine handed to a coal company for water theft, saying it amounts to a mere “slap on the wrist”.
- The market value of the water at the time from the Lower Namoi Regulated Water Source could have amounted to as much as $390,000.Maules Creek resident Ros Druce said local landholders were disappointed at the final amount, which was less than 20 per cent of the maximum penalty.
- Find more local newsEnvironmental consequencesThe court heard evidence from hydrologist Doug Anderson that the unlawful take reduced the downstream flow in the nearby Back Creek, and compromised the recharge of riparian groundwater in the area.
- He argued the timing of the offence coincided with “the worst drought in living memory” and that the water had significantly more environmental value than normal.
- Mine water investigationRules governing water use are being questioned following hundreds of millions of litres being harvested by the Maules Creek coal mine.
- The judgement also revealed that a joint venture of Whitehaven earned more than $285,000 from two temporary water trades in June 2017 and April 2018, which the prosecutor argued was a direct result of the theft.