Man pleads guilty to tree removal
BYRON BAY businessman Michael Hume Fletcher has pleaded guilty to illegally removing melaleuca trees at his Raywards Lane property in breach of the Byron Shire Council Tree Preservation Order.
However, the owner of Byron Bay Earthmoving is pleading not guilty to accusations he unlawfully transported/deposited waste in 2008; using land as a waste facility without lawful authority; failing to comply with a clean-up notice; failing to comply with a prevention notice; and carrying out development without consent (the removal of trees).
When the ongoing matters returned before magistrate Nicholas Reimer just before Christmas, the businessman’s lawyer Owen Hughes entered a written plea of guilty to the one offence.
To back up its case, the council used an aerial photograph of Fletcher’s property taken in October 2008 that showed trees which appeared to have been pushed over.
When asked why they had been removed Fletcher wrote through his legal representative it was done for the purpose of agriculture, being tea tree oil production. An on-site inspection by council officers found two stacks of trees near a shed.
The council, represented by lawyer Ralph James, is pursuing Fletcher over allegations he illegally dumped demolition material from a Jonson Street demolition site in a pile on Raywards Lane, and created rubbish sites on his own property.
Waste/rubble material at one site on his property allegedly included broken concrete, bricks, scrap metal, old vehicle batteries, electrical cable, steel tie-downs, sheet tin, steel reinforcement and electrical power points.
Fletcher is also pleading not guilty to the accusation he used building waste/rubble from the old Byron Bay Norco factory as road fill on Raywards Lane without authority.
The businessman claims he had verbal permission from a government employee to carry out road works in the lane and had been doing its road maintenance work for 10 years.
Fletcher’s nephew Nigel Fletcher faces two council charges: polluting land; and carrying out work on a road without a permit/it being a danger to the public. The matters were adjourned to February 8.