Council win against illegal land clearing
Ballina Shire Council has recently succeeded in its prosecution of three people who carried out unapproved land clearing in two separate actions.
A Lennox Head property manager was convicted and fined over $10,000in the NSW Land and Environment Court late last year for what one councillor described as possibly the worst form of environmental desecration.
A council staff report said the court found that Ian Watson, who was a manager of a rural property which included protected environmental habitat in Amber Drive, Lennox Head, conducted unapproved clearing works after repeatedly ignoring council advice that prior development consent was needed.
Watson was initially fined a total of $14,000, but because he entered an early guilty plea, the fine was cut by a quarter to $10,500.
Staff said that based on legal advice and given the successful conviction, legal action against the landowners, David and Ruth Dossor, for aiding and abetting the unauthorised clearing works, were withdrawn.
Cr Alan Rich said the clearing had been the worst form of environmental desecration thats possibly occurred in the shire which could spell the death of a rare species of native tree as a result.
Cr Rich said the clearing had resulted in very serious consequences with the tree canopy dying and invasion of weeds.
Councils group manager of regulatory services Rod Willis said a further report on how council would deal with the restoration of the land was being prepared.
In the second successful prosecution also dealt with by the Land and Environment Court late last year, Bagotville landowners Simon and Lorraine Freeden were ordered to rehabilitate land affected by their unapproved clearing a few years ago.
The court, which found the Freedens had cleared native vegetation from environmentally-protected scenic escarpment land they occupied at Bagotville Road, also ordered them to pay councils legal costs.
The rehabilitation works, the court said, are to be undertaken over a five-year period and have to comply with an action plan with annual progress reporting to council.