Linc Energy. Photo Alasdair Young / Chinchilla News
Linc Energy. Photo Alasdair Young / Chinchilla News Alasdair Young

'Devious and cavalier' actions cost Linc $4.5m

POLLUTING, failed energy company Linc has been fined $4.5million for what a judge has dubbed "ecological vandalism”.

Jurors last month found the coal gasification company guilty of causing serious environmental harm at Chinchilla between 2007 and 2013.

Linc was fined a record $4.5 million for causing environmental damage through its underground coal gasification activities at Chinchilla.

On Friday, prosecutor Ralph Devlin told Brisbane District Court Linc acted in a "devious and cavalier way” at its Chinchilla site for commercial gain.

He said the company behaved as if a "magic barrier” confined contamination within limits of its mineral development licence.

Judge Michael Shanahan said Linc's actions were "ecological vandalism”.

The damage Linc Energy caused to the environment and landowners cannot be quantified, Judge Shanahan said.

Questions have now been raised regarding Linc Energy's ability to pay the $4.5million fine, with liquidator Grant Sparks stating there was no legal obligation to pay the fine.

"The State have obtained a conviction but the fine is not provable in respect to the liquidation of Linc Energy,” he said.

But there may be other avenues for the Government to seek the money, with a separate civil case against Linc Energy currently before the courts, as well as a number of former Linc executives who are facing legal action.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said "other legal actions regarding Linc Energy are on foot against related entities, and these actions may recover funds for the State of Queensland.”

Lock the Gate alliance spokeswoman Vicki Perrin urged the Queensland Government to pursue Linc executives through "chain of responsibility” laws.

The laws allow environmental obligations to be enforced against "related persons” of financially-troubled companies, to ensure communities do not bear clean-up costs.

For Hopelands landholder Mark Tuohy, the fine was nowhere near as high as it should have been.

"I think the figure should have been $9 million,” Mr Tuohy said.

"They've left a big mess out there.

"No one seems to care about what the future health effects will be.”