Developer Fined For Clearing Koala Habitat
The $127,500 fine may be the biggest issued, but is it deterrent to wealthy developers with fat wallets and deep pockets? Perhaps the government needs to hand out a lasting punishments with development applications revoked, and future developments coming under heavy scrutiny?
DEVELOPER FINED FOR CLEARING KOALA HABITAT
March 23, 2012
A property developer has been fined $127,500 for illegally clearing a koala habitat south-west of Sydney.
Kyluk Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court to clearing 12 hectares of endangered bushland, amounting to thousands of trees, near Appin.
The Office of Environment and Heritage said the fine was one of the biggest issued for a land clearing offence in many years.
The judgment said trees were cut down for commercial gain, to provide more space to graze cattle, and the company expressed no remorse.
The bushland, which is habitat for koalas and microbats, formed part of a wildlife corridor and is expected to take 20 years to recover.
KYLUK PTY LTD COPS $127,500 FINE FOR ILLEGAL CLEARING NEAR APPIN
26 Mar 12 @ 01:34pm by Vera Bertola
CAMPBELLTOWN Mayor Anoulack Chanthivong has applauded the Land and Environment Court for handing down a $127,500 fine to a company that illegally cleared bushland near Appin in 2009.
Kyluk Pty Ltd, a Liverpool commercial and rural property investment company, was ordered to pay the fine and carry out a 20-year restoration plan for clearing more than 12ha of endangered bushland.
The company, of which Leafs Gully Action Group president Michael Steven Cenatiempo, a current director and secretary, pleaded guilty to clearing thousands of trees on the property to provide more room for cattle grazing.
The fine, one of the largest of its type handed down, will be paid to Campbelltown Council for the Noorumba Reserve Restoration Project.
Cr Chanthivong described the clearing as “environmental vandalism”.
“The council and the Office of Environment and Heritage took this case very seriously … our action has been validated by the court in the prosecution of the perpetrator,” he said.
“We will not tolerate and accept this type of damage to the environment.”
The cleared trees were part of the endangered shale/sandstone transition forest. Less than 21 per cent of the pre-1750 forest remains.
The illegal clearing also removed potential habitat for the region’s koala population and a key wildlife corridor linking the Georges and Nepean rivers.
In penalising Kyluk, Justice Nicola Pain said she took into account the clearing was commercially motivated and that the company had shown little remorse.
It has been estimated the land will take at least 20 years to recover.
Mr Cenatiempo did not return the Chronicle’s calls.
LANDMARK CLEARING PENALTY OVER APPIN LAND
BY ALEXANDRA PLEFFER
28 Mar, 2012 12:00 AM
A PROPERTY developer has been fined $127,500 for clearing a potential koala habitat and part of a wildlife corridor near Appin.
Kyluk plead guilty in the Land and Environment Court to clearing more than 12 hectares of endangered bushland on its Gilead property to make room for cattle grazing.
Last week, Justice Pain — who included the company’s lack of remorse in his decision — ordered the Liverpool company to pay Campbelltown Council $127,500 and do restoration works for the next 20 years to help the bush regenerate.
The Office of Environment and Heritage said this was one of the largest penalties handed down for clearing land in NSW and the bushland would take more than 20 years to recover. “This is the largest area of illegally cleared endangered bushland we’ve come across in many years,” acting chief executive Sally Barnes stated.
University of Western Sydney koala expert Robert Close said the thousands of trees cleared were part of a wildlife corridor linking the Georges River and the Nepean catchment.
“It’s great for people to see the legislation does have teeth and I think future land-holders will be careful,” Dr Close said.
“The koalas might not try to cross that area between catchments if there’s too big a gap without trees because with trees it means they’ve got food and protection.”
Mayor Anoulack Chanthivong said the money would be used in the Noorumba Reserve Restoration Project.
“I’m glad the court has validated our investigation — the council will not tolerate those who deliberately destroy sensitive environment in our area,” he said.
“We take this very seriously because Campbelltown is known for its pristine and very sensitive environmental areas.”
Kyluk owner Steve Cenatiempo was the leader of the community campaign against Appin’s Leafs Gully power station.
Mr Cenatiempo did not return the Advertiser’s calls this week but in 2009 he said he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.