- Friday 27 May 2016
Illegal tree clearing and dumping of soil along Bokarina Foreshore Bushland Reserve by a property owner whose land is adjacent to the reserve has cost them more than $17,000 following prosecution in Caloundra Magistrates Court last week (May 17, 2016).
Council successfully prosecuted the property owner after discovering the cleared land while conducting a routine inspection of the coastal vegetation that is tenured ‘Reserve for Environmental Purposes’ and under control of council as trustee.
Director Community Services Coralie Nichols said Sunshine Coast Council was vigilant in its role of protecting these environmental areas.
“Our coastal environmental areas are precious and must be protected,” Ms Nichols said.
“The area of unapproved vegetation removal beyond the rear of the property in question was a section of approximately 20 metres x 15 metres of the reserve.
“The Queensland Government has identified this area as containing a palustrine wetland (vegetated swamp) and is also identified as containing essential habitat for two vulnerable frog species.
“The community have an expectation that council will protect these environmental reserves as trustee of the land.
“Council will not tolerate illegal clearing of trees and will pursue prosecution of anyone who does so.”
The property owner was found guilty and fined $3000 plus $1339.80 in court costs and ordered to pay restitution to council of $9,944.43.
The partner of the property owner, who is currently building a house on the property, was also fined $1500 plus $1339.80 in court costs for illegal dumping of soil into the bushland reserve.
The soil extended approximately 15 metres beyond the rear boundary of the property and was approximately 1.5m in depth.
Ms Nichols said council officers would now undertake the difficult task of rehabilitating the area.
“The Magistrate noted that cost of rehabilitation should not fall on ratepayers and ordered the property owner to pay for the restitution of this land,” Ms Nichols said.
“The dumping of fill around the remaining Melaleucas in this area of the reserve, combined with the impacts from the clearing of the trees and supporting vegetation, is likely to lead to the death of these trees or necessitate their removal in future due to safety reasons.
“It will take many years to return this land to its former state, but our officers and environment experts will do everything they can to ensure it is rehabilitated.
“Residents must ensure that they seek written approval from council before conducting any work on council land, including coastal bushland reserves.
“As was proven by this case, there are serious consequences for this type of action and council will pursue people who disregards these laws.”