A Central Coast cucumber farm has been fined $15,000 by the EPA for burning wood waste in a biomass boiler without a licence or appropriate approvals.
EPA officers visited the Peats Ridge facility in May and discovered Family Fresh Farms had been accepting timber waste deliveries from sawmills around Bulahdelah for use as fuel in their on-site boiler.
The operator ignored previous warnings from the EPA not to operate the boiler without first getting the appropriate approvals from the Environment Protection Licence. It’s alleged the operator ignored the warnings and accepted over 200 tonnes of woodchips which were subsequently burnt to heat a greenhouse to grow cucumbers.
EPA Manager for Waste Compliance, Steven James, said Family Fresh Farms breached the Protection of the Environment Operations Act by disposing of waste at its Peats Ridge farm without proper approval.
“Unlawful waste facilities are a major problem for NSW. The EPA has a responsibility to ensure that it is a fair and credible regulator that provides a consistent service to the public and to waste industries,” Mr James said.
“If you need approval, get it before you do the activity. If you’re not sure, call us and ask.”
“The EPA is reminding businesses that blatant breaches of the law like this will not be tolerated. Waste disposal of this kind can potentially cause environmental harm and undermine the regulatory framework in NSW to ensure human health and the environment are protected.”
After being fined Family Fresh Farms’ application for an Environment Protection Licence was approved to allow the use of the biomass boiler at its facility in September 2017.
Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm