FIRE ANT FIGHTER: Brian Scoffell faces $33,000 in fines from Council for allowing a helicopter to land on his Mutdapilly property.
FIRE ANT FIGHTER: Brian Scoffell faces $33,000 in fines from Council for allowing a helicopter to land on his Mutdapilly property. Rob Williams

$33,000 fine for helping fire ants chopper crew

AN AIRSTRIP owner faces a $30,000 fine from the Ipswich City Council for helping the State Government battle fire ants, despite the backing of a Newman Government minister.

Mutdapilly resident Brian Scoffell was given 30 infringement notices by council for allowing a Bio Security Queensland helicopter to use his airstrip, breaching the town planning act.

When the Government began to tackle the spread of fire ants in 2003, Bio Security Queensland had approached Mr Scoffell to use his airstrip to refuel and restock their helicopter.

The infringement notices were issued this year and despite a letter of support from Premier Campbell Newman and the backing of Agricultural Minister John McVeigh, Mayor Paul Pisasale won't rescind the fines.

The two parties are scheduled to appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court on September 30.

Mr Scoffell never contemplated that the goodwill offer made over a decade ago would land him in court.

"I thought I was doing a community service," he said.

"They came to me in 2003 and asked me if they could land on the property."

The agreement was non-financial.

Cr Pisasale said Mr Scoffell had a responsibility to obey council's town planning act.

He said a planned meeting between the parties was cancelled earlier this week.

"We will not stop the prosecution. He has to comply with the DA approval," he said.

A statement released by Ipswich City Council said it was a condition of Mr Scoffell's Development Approval (DA) not to engage in commercial operations and to only use his airfield as his private airstrip, and only for his plane when flown by him.

A spokesman for the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said the Minister will be contacting Cr Pisasale to see if the matter can be resolved.

"We also want to make sure that Council has no issues related to Biosecurity Queensland's previous use of the airstrip at Mr Scoffell's property for its Fire Ant eradication program," the spokesperson said.

"This program is critical to protecting the Ipswich community and southeast Queensland from this major exotic pest."



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