News

Bushcare volunteers soldier on despite guerrilla campaign

The destruction at Waniora Point, Bulli.

By MICK ROBERTS.

THE Sandon Point Bushcare Group gather at Sandon Point this Sunday as the guerrilla campaign against more than 15 years of voluntary work in the area continues unabated.

The group will gather this Sunday on the southern side on Sandon Point from 10am, finishing around midday and later gathering at McCauley’s Beach at 2pm.

The Bulli Times revealed last month an ongoing campaign to destroy beachside plantings.

The coordinated assault by a group of local residents has been underway on council funded Bushcare restoration work from Waniora Point, north to McCauley’s Beach for a number of years.

The vandals, The Bulli Times understands have waged the war in the name of coastal and ocean views. The extent of the latest attacks has shocked environmentalists, who have in the past refused to comment in fear of inflaming the problem.

A ring barked tree at McCauley Beach.

Sandon Point Bushcare coordinator Marcel Van Wijk reluctantly decided to talk to The Bulli Times in the hope of prompting authorities to act on the problem. The veteran environmentalist said ultimately the continuing vandalism is a management issue that needs to be addressed by those in authority.

On the eve of tomorrow’s plantings Mr Van Wijk pleaded with council to crack down on the vandalism.

“With all of the tree vandalism occurring in the area of late, I’m hoping that Council will step up and develop a solid policy of protection, surveillance and restoration for all of our natural areas,” he said.

”It is especially important for Council to lay down a strong foundation of support for all of us volunteers that have been working to restore many of our natural areas for over 15 years in the area.

“This situation will ultimately be a test to see what level of real support and commitment there is for all the work we have done and all of the funding and resources that’s been put into these projects.”

Council confirmed it has received numerous complaints of vandalism to native trees and vegetation at multiple sites in the Bulli area.

“We’re currently investigating these complaints,” a spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, the nature of tree vandalism on public land is difficult to police.”

Under the Local Government Act, people can be fined up to $2,200 if they “wilfully or negligently injure damage or unnecessarily disturb any plant, animal, rock or soil in a public place”.

Meanwhile Mr Van Wijk and his volunteers will be at Sandon Point this Sunday continuing their environmental work.

”The plan for now will be to smash some weeds and prepare for a planting surge once it warms up again,” he said.

About Mick Roberts

A newspaper journalist, writer and local historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of NSW for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides authoring a number of history books, Mick has owned and operated several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and is now with Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Bushcare volunteers soldier on despite guerrilla campaign

  1. People come to the Illawarra in part because of its spectacular views. Planting out these views is in itself a crime. There would be no debate about tree vandalism had Vista Blocking Vegetation not been planted in the first place!

    Those involved in the Environmental Restoration and Rehabilitation Community Grants Program need to be held to account. Page 8, Para B3.2 Dot point 2, of that Program clearly states “an assurance is given that only low growing appropriate local plant species will be planted where loss of views are deemed to be a potential issue”.

    Hundreds of Illawarra residents and others from around the country have signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of Vistas and Views from private and public amenities. The loss of iconic ocean views because of uncontrolled inconsiderate Green Groups planting tall trees in the name of the Environment are themselves environmental vandals. Visit http://www.beachcareillawarra.com and sign the petition

    Dunes can be stabilised with low shrubs and grasses, not eighty foot tall gum trees.

    Vistas from public and private amenities should be protected, and property owners should be entitled to the protection of their ‘views’. After all, they paid (dearly) for the view, they continue to pay higher rates because of the view, the Valuer-General values property higher because of its views, Council happily charges higher rates for these views, therefore those owners should HAVE the view that they are paying for. What right does Council, or any minority group have to come along and rob them of those vistas?

    Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009, reproduced in part below goes to great lengths to identify that indeed a value is placed upon a View (Para 11.8.3). It outlines many considerations that man-made developments must adhere to in order to ensure that compromises to views are considered when someone decides to build something.

    Why are not these same considerations given to (and controls placed upon) the planting of vegetation?
    DCP 2009
    11 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL RESIDENTIAL
    DEVELOPMENT

    11.8 View Sharing
    11.8.1 General
    1. New development and alterations and additions to existing development must be designed to
    maximise view sharing opportunities from neighbouring dwellings and to minimise potential view loss.
    2. “View sharing” concerns the equitable distribution of views between properties. The view sharing
    principles outlined in this part of the DCP consider the equitable distribution of views between
    properties. The view sharing principles seek to strike a reasonable balance between facilitating new
    development and alterations and additions to existing development, whilst preserving as far as
    practical, access to views from surrounding properties.
    11.8.2 Objectives
    (a) To encourage view sharing from adjoining or nearby properties, public places, and new development.
    (b) To protect and enhance significant view corridors from public places.
    (c) To encourage the siting and design of new buildings which open up significant views from public
    areas.
    11.8.3 View Assessment Process
    1. The four (4) step view assessment process applied in this part of the DCP is based on the
    established planning principle outlined in the NSW Land & Environment Court judgment in Tenacity
    Consulting v Warringah, Roseth, SC [2004] (NSW LEC 140 7 April 2004), namely:
    (a) Assessment of views likely to be affected – Water views are generally more highly valued than
    land views. Iconic views (e.g. Wollongong Harbour / Lighthouse, northern Illawarra coastline,
    Sea Cliff Bridge, views across the sea towards Five Islands etc.) are more valued than views
    without icons. Whole views are valued more highly than partial views (egg a water view in which
    the interface between land and water is visible is more valuable than one in which it is
    obscured).

    Like

    Posted by Simon | July 18, 2012, 3:11 am
  2. Restoring natural vegetation would mean removing the introduced weeds called acacia sophorae and others that have been planted on our beaches and dunal areas without proper consultation and foresight.

    Like

    Posted by Michael Barnett | July 18, 2012, 3:46 am
  3. Most of the residents of the Northern suburbs are aware of the vandalism and irresponsibility of people who continue to plant the wrong species of vegetation in the wrong places. At the meeting of Wollongong City Council last week (Monday 9th July) the Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury and the councillors had lengthy discussions on the planting of wrong species including acacia sophorae along what was once a beautiful foreshore. This coastal wattle, although an Australian native, is no more a native to our foreshores as lantana and bittou bush. These and other species have destroyed our beaches and dunal areas. Council is currently planning to remove all of these noxious weeds and anyone who “cannot see the wood for the trees” and continues to spread wattle weeds is the vandal. Would those irresponsible people who claim to be “green” plant unsuitable vegetation on their own property? True “Greenies” are responsible people who carry out proper research to ensure that they are not interfering with nature, and would consult experts and the local community before destroying the landscape. If you were to plant trees that would remove the beautiful coastal views from public land, then you are removing the public amenity of ocean/beach vistas. The trees & bushes planted in front of the viewing seat at Sandon Point is a classic example of WRONG. I have not seen any evidence of Eucalyptus trees or acacia sophorae growing in the Bulli – Sandon Point area prior to this ill-informed interference with nature. I believe that it would be wise to carry out some extensive research before any more weeds are planted that will eventually cost Council and ratepayers a lot of money to remove.

    Like

    Posted by Michael | July 18, 2012, 7:11 am
  4. Why is Bushcare reluctant to bring this to the attention of the public? Could it be that they are afraid of awakening the silent majority who will rise up against them? BTW, what is the Fine for Planting 40foot tall trees in front of a public viewing platform (lookout). How is it that these people can get away with doing this and no-one bats an eyelid?

    Like

    Posted by Simon | July 18, 2012, 11:08 am
  5. I have resided at Woonona for the relatively short period of only nine years. During this time I have observed some areas where there has been excessive vegetation growth which is now blocking the public’s ability to enjoy the water and beach views along the cycle way. Some of these areas include places where seats have been specifically built for the public to be able to sit down and enjoy the beautiful views. I have some neighbours who are in their 80s and have made a daily routine of walking down to the beach spending some time in the sun sitting on the seats enjoying the views. Unfortunately they currently cannot enjoy the views that they once did.

    Like

    Posted by David | July 18, 2012, 1:10 pm
  6. Fell trees and open up view, says court
    http://m.smh.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/fell-trees-and-open-up-view-says-court-20120511-1yi1z.html
    SMH: Stephen Nicholls May 12, 2012

    WHO said you can’t own a view? The chairman of Leighton Holdings, Stephen Johns, has won his view back in a court decision.
    Mr Johns took his Bellevue Hill neighbour, Tom Breuer, widower of art gallery owner Eva, who died of cancer in 2010, to the Land and Environment Court.
    Mr Breuer has been ordered to remove a hedge of seven Leyland cypress trees growing on his Victoria Road property, which the court found severely obstructed Mr Johns’s views across Rose Bay, Shark Island, Sydney Harbour and Vaucluse to Middle Head.
    Commissioner Judy Fakes found the trees, which ranged from six metres high to 11 metres, could not be pruned without ruining them, so they had to go.
    Peter Speed, of Speed and Stracey Lawyers, who represented Mr Johns, said the relevant law was the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.
    ”Views, especially water views, are critical to a property’s amenity and value,” Mr Speed said. ”[The act] gives the court wide power to fix a situation where two or more trees forming a hedge severely obstructs the views, or sunlight, of another residence.”

    Residents want to see sea, not trees
    http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/residents-want-to-see-sea-not-trees/2547727.aspx
    The Herald 08 May, 2012 09:19 AM

    After the drama of Laman Street, Newcastle City Council had hoped its plans to plant 30,000 new street trees throughout the city would be much less controversial.
    Not so at Stockton, where residents are taking legal action to stop tree plantings they believe will block their ocean views and reduce the value of their homes.
    The council said yesterday it would soon plant beach hibiscus trees in Mitchell Street on “the boundary line of every second property in order to maximise the view corridors for the residents”.
    The trees can grow to 10 metres with a bushy canopy, but the council says they will be pruned during the first few years to ensure they grow straight and true.
    But Mitchell Street residents are upset and angry, and claim they haven’t been properly consulted and will still be badly affected.
    Bob Dein said the strip is one of the most desirable locations on the east coast.
    “These trees, if planted . . . will have nothing but an adverse effect on us all,” Mr Dein said.
    “There are no parts of Stockton, no people in Stockton that are going to benefit from these trees.”
    Forty-nine people have signed a petition during the past few days and late yesterday, a lawyer acting for residents advised the council they were taking legal action.

    Woollahra residents can prune park trees
    Wentworth Courier 10 Aug 11 @ 11:30am by KEVIN CHENG
    http://wentworth-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-can-prune-park-trees/

    CHEERS and jeers from residents filled the chambers of Woollahra Council on Monday night as councilors voted to approve the new tree management policy….

    Liberal councilor Chris Howe’s address was met with applause by residents as he said “a tree is a tree” and people should be allowed to keep their views.
    “Most people in Woollahra accept tree pruning is a proper process,” he said.
    brought a sense of order to the meeting and reminded the council, not all residents would be able to prune park trees.
    “They bought the view, they deserve the view and they should have the view,” he said.
    Cr Boskovitz also refuted claims by Greens councilors, who said Woollahra would be the only council in Australia to pass such a policy.
    “A number of councils have the same policy like Mosman, Lane Cove, Randwick and Port Macquarie,” he said.

    Trees not worth a fig when views at stake
    Sunanda Creagh Urban Affairs Reporter
    SMH: August 26, 2008
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/08/25/1219516370456.html

    ……..The Woollahra Mayor, Geoff Rundle, said he advocated a cautious approach to tree removal. He said people often planted trees without knowing how big they would become.
    “Maybe we should have a development application process for trees,” he said. “Trees and views are an issue right across the municipality.”
    Cr Anthony Boskovitz said the residents concerns resonated with many in the Woollahra municipality. “I totally agree we should be preserving views and these trees were the wrong species from the start.”
    The council voted last night to review the public tree management policy

    Like

    Posted by Simon | July 19, 2012, 1:16 am
  7. “Stop Planting Out Our Views”

    “Why put a picnic table or bench seat in a location that takes advantage of a view, only to build a wall of trees in front of it. How would you like me to come to your front yard and build a wall in front of your window?”

    The Herald 08 May, 2012 09:19 AM

    After the drama of Laman Street, Newcastle City Council had hoped its plans to plant 30,000 new street trees throughout the city would be much less controversial.
    Not so at Stockton, where residents are taking legal action to stop tree plantings they believe will block their ocean views and reduce the value of their homes.
    The council said yesterday it would soon plant beach hibiscus trees in Mitchell Street on “the boundary line of every second property in order to maximise the view corridors for the residents”.
    The trees can grow to 10 metres with a bushy canopy, but the council says they will be pruned during the first few years to ensure they grow straight and true.
    But Mitchell Street residents are upset and angry, and claim they haven’t been properly consulted and will still be badly affected.
    Bob Dein said the strip is one of the most desirable locations on the east coast.
    “These trees, if planted . . . will have nothing but an adverse effect on us all,” Mr Dein said.
    “There are no parts of Stockton, no people in Stockton that are going to benefit from these trees.”
    Forty-nine people have signed a petition during the past few days and late yesterday, a lawyer acting for residents advised the council they were taking legal action.

    Like

    Posted by david | July 19, 2012, 2:45 am
  8. “Bushcare and Greens seem to have an attitude towards View Ownership. What they fail to realise is that, if a property owners view has been obscured by planted trees, then the public’s view from that same location (i.e. cycleway, picnic grass, bench seat) has also been obscured. They really need to come down from this elitist standpoint by trying to make out that ‘rich’ beachside property owners are cranky that their view has gone. If the view has been planted out, then it’s been planted out for all, not just the property owner.”

    Like

    Posted by Simon | July 22, 2012, 10:43 pm

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