COUNCIL HAS resolved to pursue legal action against anyone found to have been responsible for a serious vandalism attack on more than 50 native trees at Pottsville Beach earlier this month.
At last Thursday’s Council meeting, Mayor of Tweed, Councillor Katie Milne, issued an appeal for anyone with information to come forward to help with the investigation of unlawful vegetation removal on council-managed crown land fronting Elanora Avenue.
“Council is committed to going all out to try to find the offenders and we’d like to call on the community to assist us with this process – someone must have heard the chainsaws,” Councillor Milne said.
“These trees are not just for amenity, they provide important coastal habitat that acts as a buffer to coastal erosion and provide important habitat for threatened animals including Pied Oystercatchers, Beach Stone-Curlews and Loggerhead Turtles. We need the community to understand the significance and get on board to provide information to help us catch whoever did this.”
On Monday, August 8, Council staff were made aware of several trees which had been cut down and/or deliberately damaged in the coastal reserve fronting Elanora Avenue, Pottsville. As further inspections were made, it became clear that more than 50 trees had been affected along a 300-metre strip. Council staff left information in letterboxes and door knocked about 40 houses along Elanora Avenue to determine if anyone had seen any activity. So far, no one has reported seeing or hearing anything.
“The vegetation vandalism appears to have been undertaken using a chainsaw and has targeted important semi-mature and mature littoral species such as Beach She-oak, Banksia, Tuckerooo, Coastal Aspen and Corkwood,” Council’s Natural Resource Management Coordinator, Jane Lofthouse, said.
“Several damaged trees remain standing but the level of damage will have to be assessed to see whether they are at risk of falling and could pose a public safety risk.”
Ms Lofthouse expressed deep concerns that this type of destruction demonstrates “complete disregard of native coastal vegetation, undermining ongoing efforts by Council-engaged bush regenerators, staff and volunteers to maintain and enhance the integrity of the coastal landscape”.
Council appreciates that the vast majority of landowners and residents adjoining the reserve are in no way responsible for this activity and that it is likely to be the work of one or two individuals – although we’re a little puzzled as to why, as no one’s view would have been greatly improved,” she said.
Council has a policy of zero tolerance for vandalism of vegetation on public land and has the right to seek rehabilitation costs and issue penalties of more than $3,000 for such offences. A high number of recent incidents in Tweed Shire prompted Council to adopt a Vegetation Vandalism on Public Land Policy.
Anyone with information is asked to call Council on (02) 6670 2400.