$65,000 for falsified audit report of formerly contaminated land

$65,000 for falsified audit report of formerly contaminated land

The New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority has prosecuted a project manager over the supply of a false site audit to Wollongong City Council.

The project manager was responsible for compliance on a proposed residential development site in the Illawarra. The site of the development is the former home of rejected coal washing and asbestos-containing material. The compliance included a site audit from an accredited auditor.

The Council and the project manager’s employer conducted enquiries following the submission of the statement, and the defendant admitted to fraudulently preparing and signing the site audit, forging the signature of a site-auditor.

Justice Pepper explained in the Land and Environment Court that the offence eroded the “essential fabric of the regulatory canvas,” which is designed to prevent harm to the environment and public.

He further stated that the offence “harmed the regulatory objectives” of the Act, “by impairing the ability of the regulatory authorities to maintain appropriate standards of auditing and to manage contaminated land in accordance with principles of ecologically sustainable development and diminished the certainty that the [site auditor] scheme was designed to promote.”

The project manager was fined $30,000 in the NSW Land and Environment Court, plus costs of $35,000, relating to the EPA investigation and court costs.

The EPA stated that they believed a legitimate site audit statement, by an accredited auditor, was later issued, and found the site to be suitable for the proposed development.

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