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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Byron Shire resident fined $60,000 for tree clearing

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Council staff say a Koonyum Range resident was fined $60k for land clearing/ removing trees, and $10k for unauthorised building work.

Ralph James, Legal Counsel, says Council was notified in October last year of the alleged clearing and development on Boogarem Road.

Investigations found there was progressive land clearing between April and October last year on a 1,300msite including the removal of nine trees ranging in height from 15 metres to 25 metres.

An expert arborist/ecologist engaged by Council found the age of each of the trees that were cut down or pushed over was 40–50 years.

The offence was aggravated by the fact that the Rural Fire Service had imposed conditions providing that clearing for bushfire hazard reduction did not permit the removal of trees over three metres in height.

Ralph James, Legal Counsel, said that the court found that the impact of the clearing, and the construction of an informal shower and toilet area, had a negative impact on the natural environment and that the clearing of native vegetation and earthworks modified the site which impacted native habitats and drainage

‘This land borders a national park and, not surprisingly, the area is home to a number of endangered and vulnerable plants and animals,’ Mr James said.

‘The felling of Forest Oaks impacts directly on the habitat and food resources of the Glossy Black Cockatoo, a listed, vulnerable species known to occur in the area.

‘Trees are highly valued in the Byron Shire and their removal, without permission, is not tolerated by Council, or the broader community, and the large fines imposed by the Magistrate in the Mullumbimby Local Court support this,’ Mr James said.

‘The defendant has been ordered to also pay Council’s legal costs of $5,000.

‘I hope this sends a strong and very clear message to people that before you clear land or cut down any trees or do any building work on your property you should check with Council to see what is allowed and what is not,’ Mr James said.

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  1. And Council should make him plant similar trees of a sensible height in more or less the same location of each of the trees he removed. Then make a diary note and revisit his site every 12 months (not an onerous request on Council). If the trees are removed, hit him another $60,000. And keep doing this every year until this dickhead of a v vandal gets the message. But maybe he’s got a bottomless bank account and he’s another newly arrived entitled person.


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