Large signs and screens to thwart and shame those responsible for cutting down or poisoning dune vegetation to try to improve their sea views along Kingscliff’s upmarket Marine Parade will be erected if vandalism there continues.
The warning by Tweed Shire Council follows the recent hacking down of many native banksia trees planted in the upper dune foreshore area two years ago by Kingscliff DuneCare volunteers.
Over the past 20 years, council has had to deal with vandalism of foreshore vegetation by property owners along the Tweed Coast wanting to improve their views, but councillors have often been divided over the best way to stop them.
The latest incident is no different, with several councillors opposed to the erection of ‘shame’ signs, which staff had recommended.
Cr Warren Polglase claimed that advising landowners that the signs could be erected if the vandalism didn’t stop amounted to a ‘threat and intimidation’.
Cr Polglase said property owners were ‘fully aware’ they shoudn’t cut down foreshore vegetation in front of their homes and that such signs would spoil ‘a nice area’ like Kingscliff.
‘We did this at Casuarina and they looked ugly,’ he said.
But Cr Dot Holdom said ‘what’s uglier than large flapping screens are the people who killed the trees in the first place’.
‘We should let them know we won’t tolerate vandalism. The neighbours there tell me they want screens across the road to stop this. What is ugly is what’s left there to remind us of these acts of vandalism,’ Cr Holdom said.
Cr Katie Milne said council had been very lenient in its response and the threat of the signs was just a warning.
She said council should also offer a reward that could lead to a prosecution, to ‘let the community know there’s an incentive to dob’ people cutting down trees to improve their views.
But Cr Holdom said a reward could lead to residents setting up ‘vigilante groups’ to confront the perpetrators and the staff-recommended actions were adequate.
Mayor Barry Longland said ‘we need to let people know there are consequences’.
Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Joan van Lieshout opposed action on erecting ‘shame’ signs.
Council will now write to property owners in Marine Parade asking for information on the recent clearing and advising that any further vandalism may result in council erecting large signage and screens in the location.
Council will also build a dune fence along the foreshore where the vandalism has occurred to discourage access into coastal bushland, with advisory signs to encourage reporting of vandalism.
Council will also help replant the affected foreshore area by Kingscliff DuneCare Group. It’s expected many of the vandalised trees will regrow.
In the past, council has erected shade screen structures along the Salt and Casuarina foreshores where vegetation had been cut down and those responsible not identified, and legal action taken against a person at Pottsville for foreshore clearing.
Council has also placed permanent signage along the dune fence at Salt.
In 2000, a large regulatory sign was erected along the foreshore at Kingscliff following vandalism but later removed after successful regrowth of the vegetation.