Coast property owner fined $40k for illegal land clearing
A LANDOWNER will have to repay more than $40,000 after illegally clearing vegetation on his property
Raymond John Peters pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Friday to one charge of carrying out assessable development without a permit.
He attempted to contest the facts after staff from the Fraser Coast Regional Council testified about receiving a complaint about land clearing near the foreshore at Tuan.
Peters told the court he accepted land had been cleared without the necessary permissions on his own property.
But he denied suggestions the clearing had progressed beyond his own boundary, onto council land and some Native Title land.
Peters told the court he had made multiple applications to the council for a development permit, however there was no evidence of that, the court heard.
Magistrate Stephen Guttridge accepted the council's evidence that land clearing had extended over the boundary of the property.
The court heard the council was contacted by a member of the public in January, who raised concerns about the land clearing.
A stop-work order was put in place later that month as the council investigated.
The court heard Peters had decided to push ahead with land clearing after he was told by a local company that he would need to wait three months to have his land cleared unless he proceeded immediately.
Peters told the court that had been his mistake.
He said he accepted more land had been cleared than what was necessary for the building footprint.
Mr Guttridge said a significant amount of land was cleared and Peters had shown a "flagrant disregard" for due process and the law.
He noted Peters had never been in trouble with the law before and had served his country for 36 years until he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now unemployed, Peters said a large fine would be a "life sentence" for him.
He was fined $30,000 and ordered to repay more than $40,000, which included court and legal costs.
No conviction was recorded.