The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued two penalty notices and one official caution to Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) for allegedly contravening regulatory requirements, in the Ballengarra State Forest, north-west of Port Macquarie.
EPA officers conducting inspections of the area following a harvesting operation identified 10 freshly cut mature trees within the hard and soft protection zones of a second order stream; a significant amount of debris pushed into a stream bed; and evidence of machine access, and earthworks caused by harvesting machinery within a protected zone.
EPA executive director of regional operations Carmen Dwyer said riparian zones, important areas directly adjacent to streams and waterways, had boundaries around them to prevent waters and dependent aquatic animal and plant life from being polluted or affected during harvesting operations.
"By failing to mark up the physical protection zone boundary in the field, FCNSW contravened a condition of the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval for the area where they were operating west of Port Macquarie," Ms Dwyer said.
"Riparian zones must be marked up prior to an operation commencing, so they are identifiable and protected from logging operations. This failure to correctly mark the location resulted, in turn, in further contraventions."
The EPA has issued FCNSW with a total penalty of $30,000, comprising $15,000 for two breaches and an official caution for a subsequent breach.
Ms Dwyer said the EPA takes forestry offences seriously and investigates all alleged breaches.
"The EPA actively monitors forestry operations at all stages of logging operations - pre, post and during harvesting," Ms Dwyer said.
"As the state's environmental regulator, we are focused on ensuring forestry operations adhere to the standards required and will not hesitate to take action if breaches are identified."
Penalty notices are one of several tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, stop work orders, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.