Chinganning Road was cleared in 2017 as part of a road works program.

Northam learns from tree fines 

Nesting boxes have been installed and revegetation planted to help remediate damages from the 2017 clearing.
July 4, 2024
Guanhao Cheng

SHIRE of Northam President Chris Antonio says being fined thousands wasn’t something to walk away and learn nothing from.

“You certainly learn from anything like this,” he said.

“We’ve done quite a number of checks and measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again and employed an environmental sustainability officer to make sure all the relevant processes and procedures are in place so we’re well aware of what’s required going forward.”

Last month, Shire of Northam was fined $10,000 for the removal of 300 mature growth trees along Chinganning Road which were estimated to be more than 25 years old.

The trees were removed in May 2017 as part of a road works program but was done without a permit.

An assessment by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation found the trees were foraging habitat for threatened species Carnaby’s cockatoo, Baudin’s cockatoo and forest red-tailed black cockatoo, and were likely to be a significant breeding habitat for the endangered black cockatoo.

It was determined the clearing likely caused a loss of flora and fauna species of conservation significance, and the shire was charged under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Northam Magistrates Court ordered the shire to pay the fine on June 17, for which the maximum penalty could be as high as $500,000.

Mr Antonio said while council voted to remove the trees in a 2015 meeting, preceding his time, the current council was working to remediate damages and not repeat mistakes.

“Nesting boxes have been installed and vegetation has been replanted (on Chinganning Road) as part of the remediation process to replace what was lost during the time,” he said.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is anecdotal, but we’ve heard that it’s worked quite well with the nesting boxes and vegetation even though it’s not in a formal process right now.

“It’ll continue to be monitored. Whether that’s formal or not, we’ll continue to do that to make sure the remediation is continuing and appropriate.”

Mr Antonio said an example of the shire’s commitment to following procedure and being conscious of environmental impacts could be seen in their development of Jennapullin Road, Grass Valley.

“So, everything’s done according to the right steps and procedures and policies for the work we’re doing on Jennapullin Road at the moment,” he said.

“We made sure to get the permits first. We talked about offsets, so we’re working with the right government agencies to get offsets that are appropriate.

“We’re doing the assessments on any potential flora or fauna at risk of damage and everything to make sure all the steps, procedures, and policies are in place prior to even considering doing any physical work.”

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