Noosa’s encroachment policy needs teeth, or wealthy land grabbers will ignore it

Local bushcarers say Noosa Council’s encroachment policy needs real teeth if it is to meaningfully address the continued vandalism of our coastal foreshores.

In a “please explain” to all mayoral and council candidates for the forthcoming local council election on 16 March, the past President of the Marcus Beach Bushcare Association, Judy Tulloch, has called on all candidates to commit to a strong regime of compliance.

In a presentation to a packed meeting of Noosa Park Association’s “Friday Forum” (23 February) she said what was needed were changes to Local Law 4 to give real powers to Council.

“In order to give some real teeth to fixing the encroachment problem, it is recommended that a clause be added to Local Law 4 that puts the onus of proof on the property owner to show that they were not responsible for encroachments occurring adjacent to their properties.”

“Furthermore, it is recommended that there be a new local law that requires restitution for historical encroachments when a property changes ownership irrespective of who caused the damage.”

Judy Tulloch

“Unless we have strong local laws, some developers and greedy people merely cop a slap on the wrist and do exactly what they like” she said.

If anyone is in any doubt of the damage done due to ineffective council policies and weak fines for transgressions, a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald doesn’t make for pleasant reading.

It laid bare (no pun intended) the illegal destruction of trees just to obtain prized water or city views that is running rampant across Sydney and Melbourne, fanned by paltry council fines and next-to-no court convictions for offenders.

The environmental cost of a view. Castle Cove, Sydney.

At Castle Cove (on the Sydney foreshore) “a 3600-square-metre area – the size of fourteen tennis courts – had been eradicated. Two hundred and sixty-five trees had been killed, chopped down – some with a chainsaw, others by hand.

To quote the mayor of Willoughby Council “….to me, the trees are as much a part of the view as the water.”

Perhaps those whose properties abut our coastal reserves in Noosa should reflect on that sentiment.

We should also reflect that the vandalism to our native bushlands and theft of public land demonstrates an astonishing sense of entitlement.

It destroys trust and the liveability of our neighbourhoods, breeds suspicion and destroys what otherwise are peaceful and friendly communities.  

Adopting an approach that will make a real difference will be one of the defining challenges of our next Noosa Council.

Vandalism for a view. Peregian Beach.

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