Two prominent New South Wales irrigators, Peter and Jane Harris, have lost their appeal to the Supreme Court over illegally taking water for use on their farm near Brewarrina.

Key points:

  • Irrigators Peter and Jane Harris lose appeal in a high profile water case
  • The Harris’ lawyer argued the judge made errors of law
  • The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal

WaterNSW brought the prosecution after extensive investigation into water management rule breaches in the Barwon-Darling region in north-western NSW following an ABC Four Corners investigation.

The Harris’ legal team, including high profile QC Brett Walker, argued that the trial judge had made an error of law by admitting into evidence details of a conversation, and that part of the evidence tendered by WaterNSW should be considered opinion.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

In March 2020, the NSW Land and Environment Court found that Peter and Jane Harris illegally extracted water for irrigation from the Barwon River in June 2016 by taking water from the Darling River when the flow of the river was equal to or less than a stipulated flow contrary to approvals under the Water Management Act 2000.

In 2018, WaterNSW began legal proceedings against the pair for breaching a condition of their approvals associated with the water licence for Beemery Farm.

The Environmental Defenders Office welcomed the court’s decision.

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Prominent irrigators lose court appeal against water theft charge
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