Koala research set to benefit from EPA investigation

Gunnedah Quarry Products Pty Ltd has entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), following a breach of the company’s environment protection licence and an investigation by the EPA.

EPA Armidale Regional Manager, Simon Smith, said the company has an Environment Protection Licence which allows it to extract up to 100,000 tonnes of gravel per year at Mary’s Mount Quarry in Mullaley.  

 “Between May 2013 and 2014 Gunnedah Quarry extracted a total 166,563 tonnes of material, that’s 66,653 tonnes in excess of the licence limit. This was not in accordance with the licence conditions.

 “The EPA believes that the incident had the potential to cause environmental harm, particularly in the form of noise and dust emissions.

“Gunnedah Quarry Products’ management has acknowledged the EPA’s concerns and entered into an enforceable undertaking. This will see the company contribute $32,000 towards a local koala research project which will be carried out by the Office of Environment and Heritage.

 “This project will provide a good environmental outcome and will benefit the long term conservation of the koalas in the area,” Mr Smith said.

 The project will involve the analysis of community koala sighting data, tracking koalas around the Mary’s Mount area using GPS collars, undertaking tree and habitat surveys, and will look at how koalas use the landscape. The project will help identify and protect critical linkages and help to make sure future planting programs are most effective for the koala population.  

 The project will also study how koalas move through modified landscapes and the connectivity with known koala population centres to the east (Gunnedah) and to the west (Pilliga Forests).

 Gunnedah Quarry Products Pty Ltd will also pay the EPA’s legal costs.

 Enforceable Undertakings are just one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. These tools include formal warnings, penalty notices, notices and directions, mandatory audits, and prosecutions. 

 Enforceable Undertakings are often imposed when there is a serious breach of licence requirements to ensure measures are promptly put in place to redress any environmental harm and obtain a good and lasting benefit for the environment.