Redland City Council tree clearing was illegal

Area illegally cleared 15 months earlier

Area cleared illegally by Redland City Council 15 months ago

Redland City Council has been guilty of illegal tree clearing. A number of sheoak trees on the foreshore near Carolena Street in Cleveland were cleared by a contractor working for Council in April 2013. The work was done by Council to improve a few resident’s views after they submitted a petition to the Council.

It seems that the Council failed to realise that these soon to be felled trees were classified as marine plants because of their forsehore location. The Fisheries Act prohibits unauthorised removal of marine plants and prescribes a maximum penalty of $220,000 for this offence. The illegality of Council’s behavior was brought to light through the persistence of Wildlife Bayside.

For reasons not made public, Council has not been prosecuted for illegal tree clearing. It seems that the LNP Government prefers to deal with the matter quietly, by requiring the Council to enter into an agreement to restore trees in the cleared area. However, Council is dragging its heels and has failed to comply with the agreement’s timeframes.

Stump of felled sheoak tree

Stump of felled sheoak tree

The illegal tree clearing matter has been referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission according to the Redland City Bulletin.

This incident is of widespread community concern. It raises important questions about Council’s decision making processes, management systems and respect for the law. Council’s failure to own up to its illegal behavior is totally inconsistent with Mayor Williams’s election promise that she would “make the council more transparent and accountable“.

Questions for Council

The location where these trees were cleared is in Redland City’s Division 3. Kim-Maree Hardman is the person elected to represent this division. The following questions have been put to her:

View from the felled tree's perspective

View from the felled tree’s perspective

1. Who petitioned for these trees to be cleared?
2. Who at Redland City Council approved the tree clearing?
3. Were the Mayor and any of the Councillors aware of the plan?
4. When was Council first made aware of the fact that this tree clearing was illegal and what was its initial response?
5. Why was this illegal action by Council not disclosed to the public?
6. What discussions took place with the State Government?
7. Why has 15 months elapsed with no re-vegetation to this area?
8. What has Council done to improve its legal compliance procedures?

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9 thoughts on “Redland City Council tree clearing was illegal

  1. I want a refund! I sure as hell didn’t give permission to clear this site and I sure as hell didn’t authorise for you to use my funds, collected for other important issues in the Redlands. Is this money going to be repaid by the Council members and Mayor themselves? It should be…. it more or less results in theft (from public funds) Shame on you council and Mayor… Shame!

    • Sarah maybe you need to contact the Department of Natural Resources Government as we have a new Government and find out what they are doing about the clearing considering it is part of coastal management and was done illegally.. This same clearing was done down at Redland Bay in front of a home that was owned by a friend of Mayor Williams.
      Actually still hoping that Susan Rankin ex CEO Redland City Council would respond in regarding to this clearing in front of her place, and her thoughts

  2. I walk through the area frequently and wondered how and why a few houses were able to convince council to remove trees for a better view. This is truly disgraceful and how can they be trusted in terms of how they will develop Toondah and Redland Bay?

  3. What a shocking state of affairs,this clearing was done I believe in front of the previous CEO of Redland City, Susan Rankin’s home, it would be interesting to hear her comments, who directed the staff to clear the plants, was she a signatory to the petition, as a local resident with knowledge of local Government has she been proactive in pushing the Council to replant the area. I am not surprised by the action of the State, considering the Premier is cutting green tape, what has the local State Member done to have this issue sorted. The Local Councillor has been silent for the past 2 years so guess that would be a waste of phone call also

  4. What we should demand is open and accountable governance. I do wish for that!

    But I hadn’t realised the Mayor had been “doing her best for the area” over this issue. I think most people assumed there was a proper and accountable process that led to the removal of the trees. It has emerged that there was a process failure and maybe a lack of due diligence … problems that if left unchallenged can develop momentum in other areas. Perhaps the solution is for Council to put a greater emphasis on policy rather than responding to pot holes ..then the bureaucrats could do their job… efficiently.

    If there was due diligence the enquiries and questions about Council processes that approved the clearing would have been answered immediately and the “storm in a tea cup” would have come to “nought”. But unfortunately, that is not what happened.

    Having seen Council meetings in operation it looks like a tight cabal of a majority rather than a robust and considered body concerned with good governance. Then there is a growing concern that can be best described as the failure or lack of a test for “public interest”. It certainly seems to get short shrift in the Council meetings that we (the community) can attend.

    It seems to me that as the trees were on “public land” there was a need for a proper “public interest test” and part of that test is due diligence in terms of legal requirements, which at least go some way to protect the public interest.

    As to big picture problems, the scope of which seem too broad for this forum, as bad as they are those mentioned might well be less intractable if more democratic, more open and more balanced decision making were ingrained in those societies. The cost of our democracy is no different to that in America…”the price of freedom… is eternal vigilance”. Locally it might also be said that democracy is too important to be left in the hands of politicians trying to please everyone.

  5. Be careful what you wish for. There are so many rules and regulations now that cause any development vastly more costly and bureaucratic. These trees were felled in April 2013, and they were so sorely missed that you’re complaining about them now? In the big scheme of things, this is a storm in a teacup, taking up more of our council’s time, effort, and expenditure than is really warranted. Considering what is happening in our State, and Country, not to mention what is happening overseas in the Ukraine, Israel, and Syria, this will all seem totally irrelevant if a large scale war breaks out. Having met our Mayor, I believe she is doing her best for the area, but no-one can please everyone.

    • Peter sadly it has taken 16 months to get the repair done, which is more disgusting, if we cant sort out the little things locally, what chance do we have of sorting the big picture out globally.

  6. As Ms Hardman is rarely heard or seen in the electorate, it will be interesting to see the replies to the questions asked?

  7. It would be interesting to see who the petitioners were and why they appeared to wield such influence. Did any of them have strong links with the Council and the Mayor?

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