A CROPPA Creek farmer, and the son of an accused murderer, has appeared in a Sydney court to answer allegations of unlawful clearing.
Grant Wesley Turnbull’s family is at the epicentre of land clearing disputes with the Office of Environment and Heritage after his father, Ian Robert Turnbull, allegedly gunned down and murdered an environmental compliance officer near the village last July.
Grant Turnbull is also being examined over alleged breaches of the Native Vegetation Act, following several investigations by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).
A hearing, set down for four days, commenced in the Land and Environment Court in Sydney yesterday morning, after the OEH instigated a court challenge in September last year to halt immediate works on certain areas of Colorado, his family farm north of Moree.
The OEH submitted affidavits as part of its case, including aerial photography which a natural resources officer claimed appeared to show approximately 221 hectares of tree cover had been cleared between January, 2013, and May, 2014.
A further allegation centres on an area totalling 286 hectares which is alleged to have been cleared between May and August last year.
In September, Justice Rachel Pepper granted the temporary interlocutory order, sought by the OEH, restraining Mr Turnbull from clearing, or causing or permitting the clearing of native vegetation on the land, because the OEH was acting in the “public interest” and any rehabilitation of the land which could have been illegally cleared was a “fundamental matter of public importance.”
The hearing into the allegations of unlawful clearing was originally scheduled to be heard in December but was vacated after Mr Turnbull said he was unavailable to brief solicitors in preparation for the case because of the busy crop harvest time as well as the unavailability of an expert witness.
The hearing, before Justice Malcolm Craig, continues today.
Mr Turnbull’s father, Ian Robert Turnbull, remains in prison accused of the shooting murder of 51-year-old OEH compliance officer, Glen Turner, in July last year.
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