Screens erected after illegal clearing – protective or punitive?

Screen erected to help quickly re-establish the equivalent size and extent of native vegetation. Protective or Punitive?

Sunshine Coast Council has installed a protective screen on a Currimundi dune after the discovery of illegal clearing and damage to native vegetation.
Division 3 Councillor, Peter Cox said the installation of a protective screen is a strong message from council that the local community does not tolerate illegal clearing or damage to native vegetation.
“Council responded to a call from a concerned local about vegetation clearing along the beach foreshore at Currimundi,” Councillor Cox said.
“Council investigated the site and discovered illegal clearing and damage to native vegetation that appears to increase ocean views for the adjacent property.
“Numerous trees and limbs have been removed from Norfolk pines, casuarinas, pandanus trees and a coastal banksia.
“A substantial area of some 625m2 has been impacted in a sensitive dune environment – council and the community are understandably quite concerned about the increased risk of erosion to the entire dune system.
“I have spoken with and met a number of locals and there is resounding agreement that re-establishment of vegetation is the highest priority to protect the dune.
“When illegal tree clearing occurs council’s policy is to place a protective screen at the site of the clearing. Protective screens are installed for a number of reasons and are a consistent response from council in the event of illegal damage or clearing of native vegetation.
“Protective screens are used to help quickly re-establish the equivalent size and extent of native vegetation that has been damaged or removed. In this instance, given the size and extent of vegetation that has been removed, the screen will be 5m in height and 22.5m in width.
“The screen will help to stabilise the dune area, reduce the risk of erosion and protect replacement vegetation from the impact of salt spray.
“We are aiming to have a number of mature casuarinas planted in the next week. Council will then do some control work to prevent the spread of weeds such as asparagus fern and Singapore daisy.”
Cr Cox said Currimundi is fortunate to have a very proactive and conservation minded community.
“Council will be working with the Currimundi community to revegetate the site over the next few months and the screen will remain in place until new vegetation is successfully established,” he said.
“All materials for the screen will be carried onto the site by hand as machinery cannot be used on near the fragile dune due to the risk of erosion.
“The protective screen will cost approximately $5,000 to construct and all materials from the screen can be re-used once the screen is removed.
“The maximum fine for illegal clearing of native vegetation on public land is $85,000 and council is seeking legal advice about the infringement in Currimundi.
“Community members are encouraged to contact council if they suspect illegal clearing or damage to native vegetation is occurring. It’s ideal to report the suspected illegal activity as it is happening and provide as much information as possible to council.”
Property For Sale

While Council claims that the aim of the screen is to protect the re-establishment of vegetation, residents of the properties adjacent to where the screen has been erected maintain the the screen is primarily punitive in nature.
A spokesperson for these residents stated that the owner of the property in question does not currently reside at the address and that property is displaying a For Sale sign with an uninterrupted view to the beach.
These adjacent residents said they must now have their visual amenity interrupted with a punitive screen that will not directly punish any beneficiary of the illegal clearing.