Farmers in north-west New South Wales say they are outraged at a fine handed to a coal company for unlawfully taking water, saying it amounts to a mere "slap on the wrist".

Whitehaven Coal has been fined $200,000 in the Land and Environment Court for unlawfully taking 1,000 megalitres of water at its Maules Creek mine between 2016 and 2019.

The company pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year.

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