ANYONE who believes vegetation has been illegally removed is being urged to make a report to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
There have been complaints to council that developers are removing vegetation before submitting planning applications in order to speed up the process, and pressuring arborists to write reports that favour developers.
The shire’s community safety, health and compliance manager Dale Gilliatte said Illegal vegetation removal was enforced through the provisions of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
“The council has enforcement powers under the Planning and Environment Act to obtain orders from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which secure the replanting and maintenance of illegally removed vegetation,” he said.
Gilliatte said the alleged breach of a planning permit and illegal removal of vegetation on a residential property under construction in Mount Martha was recently investigated by the planning compliance team.
The investigation had revealed that minor vegetation removal had occurred, leading to minor action.
“It was also noted that there are significant issues with the administration of the planning permit and consistency of plans which are currently being dealt with by VCAT,” Gilliatte said.
While there was an independent arbitrator dealing with illegal vegetation removal, Gilliatte said that if neighbours had a dispute about vegetation or its removal, they could seek help from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.
He said the maximum penalty for an offence was 1200 penalty units, which equated to a maximum fine of around $230,772 per offence.
Gilliatte said deterrence could also be in the form of the remediation of illegally cleared land.
First published in the Western Port News – 28th June 2023