A Wardell landowner has pleaded guilty to clearing 1.8 hectares of native vegetation and threatened species.
A Wardell landowner has pleaded guilty to clearing 1.8 hectares of native vegetation and threatened species.

Landowner charged over illegal landclearing

A WARDELL landowner has been charged for the unauthorised removal of approximately 1.8 hectares of native vegetation and threatened species.

The landowner pleaded guilty in the Ballina Local Court last week to the incident which occurred in September 2014.

The native vegetation illegally removed consisted of Swamp Mahogany and Coastal Cypress Pine, which are threatened species in NSW, as well as other native species and vegetation.

Ballina Shire Council's Group Manager, Development and Environmental Health, Rod Willis, said that the case certainly sets a precedent and deterrent for any future culprits.

"It's important that landowners realise the severity of removing native vegetation and threatened species without authorisation,” Mr Willis said.

"Council is satisfied with the outcome of the case, but the impacts of the crime will take years to rectify.”

The landowner has entered into a Deed of Agreement with Council for the revegetation and ongoing maintenance of the site for a minimum period of five years to ensure restoration and protection of high conservation vegetation.

"This will result in the overall long-term improvement in the habitat value of the site for a range of species including threatened flora and fauna and any future non-compliance with the Agreement has the potential to lead to further criminal charges,” Mr Willis said.

Magistrate Denys, in summing up the case, indicated that this was considered to be an "extremely significant matter”, that constituted "significant offending”, and that the penalty issued by the Court must provide a "significant deterrent” to prevent ongoing clearing of native vegetation.

The landowner was ordered to pay a fine of $4,000 and to pay Council's legal costs of $6,000.

The costs incurred by the landowner to obtain a Remediation Action Plan for the revegetation, and the cost of ongoing rehabilitation of the site and maintenance of the property were all taken into account when sentencing.



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