Big Brother is watching farmers


(Note from N.G. in Illinois: Better watch what you do with your land!)


December 14, 2002


By Andrew Dowdell

The Advertiser

121 King William Street

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5000

GPO Box 339

Adelaide SA 5001

Phone: (08) 8206-2000

Fax: (08) 8206-3646

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Farmers [found] guilty of illegal land clearing practices have been given a stern warning.

Hi-tech satellite imaging techniques have helped members of a special task force to prosecute on 14 cases of illegal clearing so far this year.

The Department of Environment and Heritage investigations and compliance manager, Frank Dal Piva, said yesterday the images had uncovered hundreds of hectares of illegally cleared land.

"As a result of the investigation, three criminal proceedings have been filed in court and 11 cases of native vegetation clearing are currently under investigation," Environment Minister John Hill said.

South-East farmer Tom Brinkworth has been summonsed to appear in Naracoorte District Court on January 7 over land-clearing.

The other two cases are scheduled to be heard in Court on February 4.

Mr. Dal Piva said the satellite technology had uncovered clearances about which his department previously had no knowledge. "Previously we had relied on people telling us where clearances were taking place, which was an inefficient way of doing things," he said.

Mr. Dal Piva said the technology would also uncover many "tricks" landowners had used to hide cleared areas.

"Many clearances are donut-shaped, where the landowner had cleared the land in a circle and left the vegetation around the outside of the property," he said.

"All you would see from the ground would be vegetation but the aerial pictures give it away."

Agricultural areas in the South East, Murray-Mallee, Yorke Peninsula and the mid-North areas of the state have been targeted by the satellite imaging.

Mr. Dal Piva said the worst examples of clearances involved "several hundred hectares" of land.

The maximum penalty for illegal clearing is $40,000, but bigger penalties passed by Parliament last month will come into effect in weeks.


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