Wollondilly landowner faces huge fine for illegal clearing

Mayor Matthew Deeth said the case was an important reminder to Wollondilly residents that all clearing of vegetation requires approval unless an exemption applies.
Mayor Matthew Deeth said the case was an important reminder to Wollondilly residents that all clearing of vegetation requires approval unless an exemption applies.

The state government department has won an unlawful clearing case against a Wollondilly property owner.

The court victory resulted in undertakings and penalties to the value of $480,000 to be paid by the landowner and the contractor who carried out the clearing.

A substantial amount of clearing was carried out on the Oakdale property, resulting in a report to Council by locals who were distressed by the large quantities of the vegetation they observed being removed from the vacant land.

The vegetation was classified as an Endangered Ecological Community.

Due to the non-compliance under the former Native Vegetation Act, the Office of Environment and Heritage (now the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment) took on the matter. It prosecuted the contractor under the State Act.

The Department has also accepted an enforceable undertaking from the landowner.

Mayor Matthew Deeth said the case was an important reminder to Wollondilly residents that all clearing of vegetation requires approval unless an exemption applies.

"Clearing without approval or exemption can attract significant penalties for both the landowner and those who undertake the clearing," he said.

Exemptions include those under the Local Land Services Act, the RFS 10/50 Code of Practice, the Biosecurity Act, the Wollondilly DCP and certain other legislation.

Many factors can affect clearing allowances including property size, type of vegetation, size of the area to be cleared, the purpose for clearing, proximity to watercourses and the proposed clearing method.

Before undertaking clearing of trees or vegetation, property owners or contractors should contact Local Land Services for Rural Zoned properties or Council for any other zoning to obtain advice specific to their property.

Cr Deeth said suspected illegal clearing activity should be reported to Council on 4677 1100 council@wollondilly.nsw.gov.au or the Environment Line on 131555.

He said information should include dates, times, location, and registration numbers of vehicles and it is recommended that diary notes are taken of what is observed.