AGL has been fined $124,000 for political donations.
AGL Energy and its subsidiary AGL Upstream have been fined $124,000 in the Land and Environment Court today for failing to disclose political donations when making planning applications.
The applications include the Newcastle gas storage facility.
The judgment is a result of a prosecution brought by the Department of Planning and Environment after a compliance investigation was undertaken following complaints from community groups.
This is the largest total penalty imposed since the provisions were introduced in 2008.
AGL Energy was fined $112,000 and AGL Upstream $12,000.
The company made$73,800 undisclosed donations across a number of the planning applications, including a$13,750 donation made to NSW Laborand an $11,000 donation to the Liberal Party, both in 2011.
In addition to the fine, the companies have been ordered to pay the department’s legal costs.
AGL Energy pleaded guilty to 10 charges and AGL upstream pleaded guilty to one offence of failure to disclose political donations under section 147 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The charges related to AGL’s coal seam gas projects in Gloucester and Camden; the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility; the Broken Hill solar plant and the Dalton Power Station.
General counsel for the Department of Planning and Environment James Hebron said the company cooperated with the Department’s compliance investigation.
“Under planning legislation there is an obligation on a proponent when making a planning application to report political donations” Mr Hebron said.
“This is to ensure transparency in the planning process.”
Community members in Gloucesteruncovered undeclared donations from AGL to major political parties in 2014. With the assistance of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office, they complained to the NSW Office of Environment.
“We were looking at something in the original planning documents because we always thought there was something not quite right about it,” Gloucester Groundswell member Jenni O’Niell said.
AGL’s Newcastle 1.5 petajoule gas storage tank was commissioned in May 2015.
It provides storagecapability for up to two weeks ofgasfor greater Newcastle.
AGL said the project would have an economic benefit of about $2 billion.AGLsupplies naturalgasto 700,000gasusers in NSW, including hospitals, schools, businesses and homes.