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May 10, 2021

Tweed Councillors take unauthorised tree removal seriously

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Streetview of Oyster Point Road, Banora Point. Image Google maps.

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.

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  1. Really…
    A PIN of $3,000 or a company PIN at $6,000..these local councils must be taking the piss.
    This developer could be making hundreds of thousands of dollars on this development…and a $6k Pin..chump change!!!
    They would probably write the PIN off as development expenses.
    This could be a blatant case of “it is best to seek forgiveness after the fact..rather than before the act “..and lets face it…developers are not stupid..they know the codes inside out and back to front, but more specifically..”they know the loop holes, those black holes that tie council DA employees in knots” and can be tested in environmental courts..with a good chance of getting up in the developers favour.
    Local councils stretched for income and for manpower in some cases are “easy fodder” for these developers..because councils are fighting developers with “one hand tied behind their backs by state government regulations.”
    So with the fines, if local councils have their state legislative authority ..double them..quadruple them..make it a PIN of $30,000 per tree when unlawfully removed by a developer..plus the development application is automatically made null and void.
    Then the developer will think twice..because it is going to cost them money!
    That is the bottom line..
    The cards are stacked against the Local Councils….just the wy the state government wants it.

  2. Yet they left us with a huge tree leaning over my house. Fought them for years to remove it. They semt town planners instead of the arborist three times, they said no, the arborist said get it down before it falls and destroys your home and kills your family. No storm water drainage in our street theroad water pours through my house, the repair bill is over 50k. Still wont fix it. Private surveyors and engineers say the TSC is completely liable. TSC engineer says meh. Six years of no action. I have to sue them. But yeah harp on about some trees. The ex mayor bought a hotel and cut ten huge gums down for better views and thats ok. Please spare me the fake concern they care only about the money.


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