$20,000 worth of fines for failing to protect historical trees

Published on 08 November 2018

Oak tree.jpg

Two landowners in Plenty have each been fined $10,000 in the Magistrates Court for failing to protect two 100-year-old heritage-protected oak trees from being poisoned.

Council officers identified a number of separate, deliberate attempts to poison the trees between September and November 2017. Sadly, as a result of the poisoning, both trees are now dead.
 
Mayor Karen Egan said Council took a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who compromised Nillumbik’s history and environment.

“This reiterates a strong message that owners of heritage-listed properties, places, buildings and vegetation are responsible for protecting our community heritage,” Cr Egan said.
 
“Owners of properties with a heritage overlay must ensure measures are in place to prevent deliberate or accidental damage to our local heritage.”

In this instance, there were no measures in place to protect or prevent access to the trees.
 
The owners pleaded guilty in court and in addition to issuing the fines, the magistrate also ordered that Council’s costs for the court action be paid.
 
Under the Planning and Environment Act, owners of any property are ultimately responsible for ensuring they comply with planning controls.

Environment Portfolio Chair Cr Jane Ashton said the magistrate’s decision was an important reminder about landowners’ responsibilities.
 
“Landowners are reminded to check with Council’s Planning Services unit before they start earthworks, remove any vegetation, construct a building or commence a new use, to determine whether they require planning permission,” Cr Ashton said.
 
Nillumbik Planning Services can be reached on 9433 3343.