Government’s environmental appeal quashed
A BID by a government department to secure a conviction against a concreting business has been quashed in court.
In May, Cordwells Resources – who own Cordwells Concrete in Yandina – was found not guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court of contravening a condition of environmental authority by “directly or indirectly” releasing turbid water into Eudlo creek.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide documents during an investigation and was fined $7500.
The Department of Environment and Science lodged an appeal against the decision, claiming Magistrate John Walker “misconstrued” their argument. Cordwells came to the department’s attention in 2016 when officers on site saw turbid water flowing from a valve on the company’s Chevallum sand quarry site into a culvert that led to Eudlo Creek.
Director Brian Cordwell insisted the valve had been shut when he earlier inspected the area. Officers found it could be controlled by a top and stick sitting on the bank.
The prosecution argued tampering with the valve was foreseeable and Mr Cordwell had not taken reasonable steps to prevent it. The charge was dismissed by Mr Parker on the basis that while there was no evidence a third party had been involved, the hypothesis cast “reasonable doubt”.
The appeal was heard in Maroochydore District Court with Judge Brad Farr saying the prosecution were the ones who “misconstrued” the case.
He told the court the charge Mr Cordwell was facing “unambiguously alleges” he discharged the waters.
“The appellant failed to discharge its onus and prove the defendant did release (the contaminants) by act or omission,” Judge Farr said. The appeal was overturned.