Hassad Australia in court over native vegetation removal at Telopea Downs

A QATAR food company could appear in Horsham Magistrate’s Court later this month after it
allegedly breached West Wimmera Shire Council’s planning scheme.

Hassad Australia – owned by Hassad Food Company – bought more than 40,000 hectares of agricultural land at Telopea Downs in 2012.

The company allegedly removed native vegetation at the property.

West Wimmera Mayor Ron Hawkins said negotiations between the two parties had been going for months.

“Council is disappointed an agreement has not been reached at this time,” he said.

“We consider this a significant breach of the planning scheme regarding vegetation removal.

“Council seeks to secure an agreement that is reasonable to both parties and addresses environmental impacts that have occurred.

“Council will do everything in its capacity to finalise a reasonable agreement, but will not be

compromised in meeting the needs of the West Wimmera community and its statutory responsibilities.

“Council remains hopeful an agreement can be finalised and avoid legal proceedings, which are scheduled for February 19.”

Hassad chief executive Tom McKeon said the court date was a procedural formality.

“All parties are hopeful of a satisfactory and timely resolution,” he said.

“Hassad has and will continue to work in good faith and with complete transparency with council to achieve a beneficial outcome.”

Mr McKeon said the alleged vegetation removal occurred when the company was doing a land improvement project.

He said the improvement involved claying and feral animal control.

“It is alleged that as part of the claying program, unapproved clearing of native vegetation occurred,” he said.

“This alleged unauthorised clearing has been brought to the notice of management and authorities, and Hassad has been working with West Wimmera Shire Council to resolve the issue.

“We seek to abide by all relevant local, state and national legislation and regulations.”

He said Hassad strove to be an organisation that excelled in its corporate responsibilities and promoted environmentally sustainable practices.

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