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.
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:
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?