Australia: Olmwood Pty Ltd, a company which won council approval to build 201 relocatable homes on a site near a coastal erosion danger zone has been fined AUD 100,000 for illegally clearing the land. The company was fined by the Land and Environment Court for clearing about 1.7 hectares on its 10-hectare property at Old Bar near Taree, Australia.
Simon Smith, Director General of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, said, “With the use of satellite imagery and aerial photography, the department was able to identify areas where there were changes in vegetation and could then investigate. The judgement will send a strong message to developers who try to clear land before proper assessment by planning authorities.”
Earlier this year Taree City Council approved the company’s application to build 201 manufactured homes on a site which is located less than 200 metres from where three homes have already been removed because the land was being eroded by the sea. Council approved Olmwood’s plans for the development on the condition that all houses and associated community facilities could be pulled down and removed if the site is threatened by erosion or rising sea levels caused by climate change.
Justice Pain said illegal clearing of native vegetation for profit or to save the cost of obtaining approvals increased the seriousness of the crime. But the lawyer representing Olmwood, Paul McGirr, said that the company had done nothing wrong, had made all reasonable checks before clearing and would appeal the conviction.
Source: Sidney Morning Herald