A pensioner has been handed a five-figure fine after a court found the 71-year-old illegally removed dozens of trees at his home and a popular golf course on Sydney’s north shore.
The NSW Land and Environment Court found John David Chia ordered contractors to remove 74 trees at the Roseville Golf Club and his home on Carnarvon Rd without approval from Ku-ring-gai Council or the golf club in October 2014.
A long-running court dispute between Mr Chia and the council heard trees removed from the golf course included casuarinas, black she oaks and Sydney red gums.
Also removed were varieties of foraging habitats for rare animals including powerful owls, red crowned frogs and glossy-black cockatoos.
The court found Mr Chia’s “most probable motivation” for paying contractors $16,000 in cash to fell the trees was to address “potential fire hazards” near his home.
The trees were covered by a preservation order by Ku-ring-gai Council aimed at “preserving the existing amenity” of the council region.
Mr Chia argued the trees were “not widely used or visible to the public” and therefore the loss of public amenity was “limited”.
The 71-year-old also told the court he had paid the golf club $16,890 to undertake bush regeneration works before hiring contractors himself.
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