The issuing of fines over the unapproved removal of trees at 12 Oyster Point Road, Banora Point was up for debate last night as Tweed Shire Councillors increased the staff recommended Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) to two.
The development under discussion will see eight dwellings on the site rather than the two that was preferred by objectors. Councillors recognised the considerable effort that the developer was undertaking to reduce the impact on neighbours via setbacks, change in use of building materials, window sizes, and changing balcony positions. However, it was the unauthorised removal of trees at the site that generated the most debate.
Six trees removed
According to councillors, there were up to six trees removed from the site of which there were two significant trees and a Tuckeroo that had been over-pruned.
‘Prior to this, they [the developer] were advised that the Tuckeroo was important. These trees were highly valuable to community and the streetscape,’ said Cr Milne
Cr Milne also pointed out that ‘of course they can take trees down if proper approval is sought’ but as that was not the case the Councillors should impose at least two PINs. ‘I believe we should be taking this seriously. Our community values our environment and we shouldn’t be giving a bulk discount.’
Councillor Pryce Allsop argued in favour of the single PIN saying they should go with the staff recommendation as ‘they are the ones who should determine it’.
It was unclear if the PIN issued would be an individual PIN of $3,000 or a company PIN at $6,000 with some councillors stating that one should be sufficient as it was a lot of money for the fine.
Must act as a deterrent
However, Cr Milne pointed out that the ‘fines have increased recently because state government has realised they [PINs] were not acting as a deterrent. I think we need to abide by what state government has advised. Two is a compromise because he took three significant trees out.’
The vote went in favour of issuing two PINs and the approval of the ‘Development Application DA20/0125 for a staged development including demolition, earthworks, tree removal, multi dwelling housing (8 dwellings and 2 pools) and strata subdivision at Lot 101 DP 713999 No’.
A spokesperson for the Tweed Shire Council said that currently it is ‘unknown who the PINs will be issued to but compliance staff will determine who, or which body, [individual or company] it will be issued to’.
♦ Story was updated 9 February, 2021 at 2.15pm with clarifications from Cr Milne.