Why your name is your problem

This is an article from Treeworld on August 21, 2010.   There are many Tony Fish’s and shows how someone could associate this one with me and think that I have a new job.  Learning - always take care to check that the name is the person you really want.


AN ENVIRONMENTAL expert has agreed to 16 months of koala community service after giving a developer advice that was so deficient a local council says it caused the deaths of 30 breeding females.

After pleading guilty in the first prosecution of an adviser to a developer, Tony Fish and his company Orogen Pty Ltd have agreed to provide $160,000 worth of environmental services to preserve koala communities by mapping their habitat for Port Stephens Council. The order to help protect koalas, known as an environmental service order, is on top of $120,000 in fines and legal costs and an order that Mr Fish and his company serve a modern-day equivalent of a stint in the stocks by publishing details of their offence in the Herald and the newsletter for the Ecological Consultants Association.

Under the headline ''Environmental consultant convicted of causing damage to koala habitat at Taylors Beach, Port Stephens'', the advertisements say Orogen and Mr Fish provided a developer with advice on what vegetation could be lawfully cleared on the property, but failed to advise that damaging the habitat of the koala was unlawful under the National Park and Wildlife Act.

''Both Orogen and Mr Fish were aware that the property contained habitat of the koala and koala movement corridors. Vegetation containing koala habitat was subsequently cleared.''

Mr Fish told the court that because of an oversight he failed to advise the owner of the land, Buildev, that it was illegal to damage threatened species habitat without a development consent from council, which saw more than three hectares of the 30-hectare site being unlawfully cleared in 2007.

Justice Nicola Pain said there was "no evidence before the court of any physical harm to the koalas as a result of the clearing activity".

But Lee McElroy, a vegetation officer with the Port Stephens Council, said he had no doubt that felling the trees caused the deaths of koalas which, he said, ''panic if they don't find the trees they have previously visited''.

"They remember if they passed a tree on the left or right side and they get confused and scared if the trees they climb are gone and they run across the road,'' he said.

"We lost 30 breeding females straight after the clearing event. That's a large breeding colony that has been virtually wiped out from one incident … It's not anecdotal evidence, they were using it [the cleared area] as a corridor and they ran across the road when they discovered the trees they knew and expected to use had been removed."

While admitting he had made a ''significant'' mistake, Mr Fish denied the clearing was responsible for the deaths.

"There is no evidence the clearing activity had caused any harm to the koalas," he said.

Mr Fish said he and the company he part-owns were "sorry for it" and had decided "to learn from it, to grow from it and to contribute to the industry from it".

Lisa Corbyn, who heads the Department of Environment which prosecuted Mr Fish, said the decision put environment consultants on notice they "have an important responsibility to provide accurate advice" to clients.

Mr McElroy agreed the decision was a ''very valuable lesson'' for environmental consultants.

"We come across this all the time where we have so-called consultants giving advice contrary to the legislation,'' he said. ''While there were good environmental consultants there were also bad apples who would simply tell developers what they wanted to hear. "There are ecologists trying to please developers knowing they'll get further work with them."