Community up in arms over clearing of Crown Land

MacMasters Beach land clearing. Note how small the man is in relation to the space cleared.MacMasters Beach land clearing. Note how small the man is in relation to the space cleared.

The NSW Office Environment Heritage (OEH) has launched an official compliance investigation into alleged clearing of Crown Land at MacMasters Beach, while Central Coast Council continues to work, with multiple agencies, on Investigation of alleged clearing without permission on private land at a James Norton Rd property, located between Bensville and MacMasters Beach.

For over two weeks, concerned MacMasters Beach residents have been waiting for Central Coast Council, and or OEH, to respond to reports of what they consider to be clearing of bushland by a private landowner without appropriate permissions. The of and NSW Office Environment Heritage (OEH) has launched an official compliance Investigation Into alleged clearing of Crown Land at MacMasters Beach, while Central Coast Council continues to work, with multiple agencies, on Investigation of alleged clearing without permission on private land at a James Norton Rd property, located between Bensville and MacMasters Beach.

Coast Community News has contacted a family member of the land owners, believed to be three siblings, and they are expected to issue a statement through their legal representatives.

Kel Butcher, spokesperson for the unnamed group of concerned MacMasters Beach residents, said that over two weeks ago, one of his neighbours heard machinery in the bush, “went and had a look, and saw machines starting to clear the bush. “He was told was only clearing along the fence line, but the contractor went on to clearing large patches of land that had nothing to do “the the boundary fence,” Butcher said.

“Big trees have been cut down in addition to the bush that has been cleared With the machines,” he said. Butcher said residents were particularly concerned about clearing that has occurred on non-private land, since confirmed as Crown Land. A neighbouring property has a native conservation caveat over some of ts land which has also, allegedly, been cleared, along with remnant rainforest on the Crown Land at the MacMasters Beach end of the property.

The site has been visited by Central Coast Mayor, Jane Smith, Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, and Labor Candidate for the seat of Terrigal, Central Coast Councillor, Jeff Sundstrom.

Police have also been called to the area on several occasions since the land clearing commenced.

“The Mayor was fairly guarded in her comments. “it’s nice that she came to visit, and we all respect the fact that there is an investigation underway, Butcher said. “What we want to know is why it has taken so long for someone to make a decision about what is allowable and what is not allowable. “It is 16 days since this started, we know Council has issued the stop work order, but is there going to be any punitive action for the damage caused? “We have not yet been told what remedies are available. “OEH has jurisdiction over the public land, but we are just going around in circles at the moment, nobody IS taking responsibility for what is happening. “No one is saying yes’, this is our jurisdiction, but we also do understand that it is a complex investigation by Council, and they are saying that they are doing everything in their power.

“There are quite a few adjoining neighbours keeping an eye and ear out for any further acton that may take place. “We have a very concerned community group that will respond very quickly if anything does happen. “The chainsawed trees included 100, or more, year old angophoras, and you won’t get trees of that maturity back for the next three generations, and they are habitat, once they are down, they are lost for generations.

“We all respect people and we understand that land owners have rights, but we want things done according to the law and through the right channels, we don’t think anyone can just go in and ignore the laws and destroy the bush like that” Adam Crouch issued a statement on Monday, November 19, that National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Central Coast Council were working together and had appropriately intervened to prevent any further illegal clearing. “l thank the number of local get trees of that maturity back for the next three generations, and they are habitat, once they are down, they are lost for generations.

“As such, was subsequently able to arrange for Central Coast Council to take necessary steps, including a stop work notification,” he “No clearing of native vegetation on a property can be undertaken without Council approvals and oversight. “NPWS and Council rangers have been patrolling the site on a very frequent basis.

“Thank you to the Macmasters Beach community for their ongoing vigilance, and I stand With them in not tolerating any illegal clearing in our local area,” Crouch said. Compliance officers from OEH subsequently inspected the site, which resulted in the official compliance investigation being launched. residents who contacted me and brought this to my attention,” Crouch said. “As such, was subsequently able to arrange for

Central Coast Council to take necessary steps, including a stop work notification,” he “No clearing of native vegetation on a property can be undertaken without Council approvals and oversight. “NPWS and Council rangers have been patrolling the site on a very frequent basis.

On Thursday, November 15, the Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, had sent urgent emails to the NSW Minister for Lands, Paul Toole, and the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, as a result of calls from distressed members of the local community. “The community in the Terrigal electorate are very concerned re tree felling on a border between private and Crown Land between Bensville and the Scenic Drive, DP659496, 20 James Norton Rd, Bensville,”

Tesch’s email to the Ministers said. The property is zoned 7A, including endangered ecological protected community, under Biodiversity Conservation Act On Thursday, November 15, the Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, had sent urgent emails to the NSW Minister for Lands, Paul Toole, and the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, as a result of calls from distressed members of the local community.

“The community in the Terrigal electorate are very concerned re tree felling on a border between private and Crown Land between Bensville and the Scenic Drive, DP659496, 20 James Norton Rd, Bensville,” Tesch’s email to the Ministers said.

The property is zoned 7A, including endangered ecological protected community, under Biodiversity Conservation Act. I have been provided with photographs of very large trees felled across this property, on other neighbouring properties, including what locals believe is Crown Land,” Tesch said.

The community group has alleged that trees were cut down after Council had issued its stop work order. Butcher said the group had been urging locals and concerned residents to contact Council, OEH and, Adam Crouch, regarding their concerns. Butcher said he had been told that Crouch had been in touch with NSW Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton. “They are very aware of the sensitive nature of this area,” large trees felled across this property, on other neighbouring properties, including what locals believe is Crown Land,” Tesch said.

She requested information on permissions provided to fell trees or clear trees. “l understand that because of the nature of tree felling endangered ecological communities protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act, the OEH should be involved.”

“They are very aware of the sensitive nature of this area,” Butcher said. “When you look at what is going on, all the different government departments that are involved, t looks like a dropped bowl of spaghetti,” said Clr Sundstrom. “it takes too long,” he “Government departments should be able to communicate, t should not take 10 days. “We need some sort of system so that when an emergency happens, whether they are on the land owner’s side or the environments side, when an happens, we should get rapid action.

“Government departments should be able to communicate, it should not take 10 days. “We need some sort of system so that when an emergency happens, whether they are on the land owner’s side or the environments side, when an happens, we should get rapid action. “My promise to you is that I will do what I can as your local councillor, and if lam your local member in the future, I will be working hard to make sure those systems that we need to protect the environment, will be in place. “l was notified several times by locals and visitors to the MacMasters Beach trail that had seen evidence of land clearing and they had concerns about the effects on the environment and whether what was happening was permitted,” Sundstrom sad.

“l notified Council staff, they said they had been made aware already and that staff were looking into it.

“People saw trees being cut and mulched into the ground. “I’m disappointed that there is no rapid resolution to this situation, I think that the state government departments need to have a better way of communication. “l have been liaising Wth the community and the owners.

“The main thing I want to see come out of it is that if there are permissions given, they are allowed to carry out works, but if they are over stepping the permissions, then they should be brought to account ”

Media statement, Nov 19  Ben Sheath, of Adam Crouch. Media statement, Nov 15 L Tesch, Member for Gosford, Nov 16 MacMasters community meeting. Interview, Nov 20 Jeff Sundstrom, Labor Candidate Terrigal.

 

 

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