Case wood have been costly

Tree re­moval saga

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - NEWS - Lyn Gri­er­son

PARKERVILLE res­i­dent Bob Ro­get says Mun­dar­ing Shire nar­rowly avoided a se­cond costly court case af­ter ac­cus­ing him of il­le­gally re­mov­ing trees from his prop­erty.

He said the cost to ratepay­ers would have been “as­tro­nom­i­cal” given the Shire’s un­suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tion against the owner of two dogs ac­cused of killing and maim­ing 39 sheep in The Lakes in 2016.

A three-day crim­i­nal trial in Jan­uary ruled the Shire was un­able to prove be­yond rea­son­able doubt the dogs had com­mit­ted the of­fence.

Af­ter re­peated at­tempts to iden­tify the trial costs, the Gazette re­vealed the Shire spent al­most $93,000 on the at­tempted pros­e­cu­tion.

Mr Ro­get said in his case he was is­sued a writ and shown ‘be­fore and af­ter’ aerial im­ages taken by the Shire in 2017 of about eight to 10 trees miss­ing from a forested sec­tion of his 32hectare prop­erty.

He said he did not know how or when the trees were re­moved and sug­gested thieves may have chopped them down.

He also told the Shire he had per­mit­ted neigh­bours to re­move fallen dead wood from his prop­erty and not ex­ist­ing trees.

A week be­fore the trial on March 19 this year, Mr Ro­get told the Shire they could not win the case.

“I re­ferred to the dog trial and the Shire com­plain­ing about peo­ple chop­ping down wood on their own prop­erty and asked if they would be will­ing to sue them­selves?” he said.

The case of the miss­ing trees was re­solved out of court, with Mr Ro­get agree­ing to the Shire’s re­quest to plant more trees.

“Ini­tially the Shire asked me to plant about 100 trees and af­ter some dis­cus­sion I agreed to plant 20,” he said.

“I’ve put in 1000 trees in the 12 years I’ve been here and in­ter­est­ingly most of the trees the Shire said were miss­ing have re­grown.”

A Shire spokes­woman said “a mu­tu­ally sat­is­fac­tory out­come was ar­rived at by all par­ties”.

The Shire did not an­swer ques­tions about the case of the miss­ing trees or dis­close the le­gal costs in­curred be­fore a res­o­lu­tion was reached.

Mr Ro­get no longer owns the ‘miss­ing tree’ sec­tion of the prop­erty, hav­ing sub­di­vided and sold a por­tion of his land in Au­gust last year.

In the process, he had to re­move about 60 de­vel­oped trees from the perime­ter of the prop­erty as part of fire­break re­quire­ments for the sub­di­vi­sion.

The penalty for the wrong­ful re­moval of trees by a cor­po­ra­tion is $1,000,000 and Mr Ro­get’s prop­erty is owned by his com­pany, In­ter­corp Pty Ltd.

Na­tive veg­e­ta­tion in­clud­ing trees are pro­tected where clas­si­fied as Lo­cal Na­ture Area un­der the Shire’s Lo­cal Plan­ning Scheme No. 4.

Pic­ture: David Baylis

Bob Ro­get with the young trees he re­cently planted on his Parkerville prop­erty.

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