A Yerrinbool-based organisation has been ordered to pay $25,000 by Moss Vale Local Court following successful prosecution by Wingecarribee Shire Council.
Local Court Magistrate Cheetham ordered the defendant pay a $25,000 fine after pleading guilty to destroying eleven healthy and mature Council street trees.
The street trees were located on the Kiandra Street nature strip outside the Yerrinbool property.
The organisation also paid $11,840 in compensation. This compensation represents the amount of expenditure Council will subsequently incur in removing the stumps and replanting new established trees.
The Magistrate accepted joint expert evidence that, even though the trees were cut and not fully removed, the lopping was undertaken unprofessionally and not in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards. The Court heard that if left in their current condition the trees would ultimately perish and present a risk to persons and property.
In handing down his decision, Magistrate Cheetham reiterated the seriousness of the offence and acknowledged the significant environmental impact, including loss of public amenity, which had occurred as a result of the trees destruction.
Council will subsequently remove the remaining tree stumps and plant replacement trees.
As part of the sentencing a criminal conviction was also recorded against the organisation.
The prosecution was made possible following a tip-off from a vigilant resident and the subsequent investigation by Council Rangers and Tree and Vegetation Officers.
Wingecarribee Shire Council reminds anyone considering removing any trees or vegetation to always obtain proper approvals.
For more information, including an online self-assessment tool, visit www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/tree-and-vegetation-clearing-on-private-land.