Tree vandalism

Poisoning & wilful destruction of trees in Randwick

The vandalism, poisoning and wilful destruction of trees within the Randwick City area are ongoing problems that are driven by a number of factors ranging from property overhang to improving views to attempting to increase property values.

Because trees provide many benefits to the human habitat and generally improve the quality of life in the urban environment, Council considers tree related breaches of its RLEP and DCP as very serious matters that will be vigorously pursued with all available resources.

Tree vandalism is a criminal offence

Whatever the motivation for tree vandalism it is a criminal offence that can incur severe penalties and a criminal record should the perpetrators be identified and brought before the courts.

Under the provisions of Clause 5.9 of the Randwick Local Environmental Plan and Part B5 of the Randwick Development Control Plan, permission is required prior to the pruning and/or removal of most trees – particularly trees growing on public land.

How we assess a report of tree vandalism

When Council receives a report that an act of tree vandalism may have taken place an assessment is initially undertaken by a tree officer in order to ascertain whether a breach of its RLEP and/or DCP has occurred or whether consent has been granted or is required for the removal of any affected vegetation.

If a breach has occurred the investigating Council officer takes photographs, interviews witnesses and prepares a report on the matter. Depending on the size of the tree and its condition, the area may have to be isolated and any vandalised/poisoned tree/s removed in the interests of public safety.

A comprehensive letterbox drop is then undertaken throughout the surrounding area informing residents of the vandalism and inviting them to provide Council with any information they may have in relation to the matter.

Your tree vandalism tips are confidential

Any information provided is treated in the strictest confidence and a reward may be paid by Council should the perpetrators be identified as a result of receiving any such information. Additionally, should Council be able to identify the perpetrators of any such act, legal proceedings will be initiated against them without notice.

Blocking views created by tree vandals

Where serious acts of tree vandalism occur involving public tree assets and it is deemed appropriate, Council will erect a banner that mirrors as closely as possible the dimensions of the removed/poisoned vegetation and any such banner is then regularly maintained to ensure it remains safe to members of the public until any replacement trees attain a size approximating that of the original removed vegetation.

This strategy is designed to provide an effective and consistent methodology for dealing with the vandalising and/or poisoning of public tree assets throughout the City where it can be demonstrated that the erection of a properly secured banner will deny the perpetrators of any such act a discernible benefit from the removal of any affected vegetation.

Penalties for tree vandalism

Under Section 629 of the Local Government Act 1993, penalties apply to the injury or unnecessary disturbance of plants in or from a public place, including road reserves.

Under Sections 125 and 126 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, court action (in addition to any pecuniary penalty) may apply to the destruction of or damage to a tree or vegetation. Offenders may be required to rehabilitate the site, plant new trees and vegetation and maintain these until maturity.

Further penalties may also apply to the damage or removal of trees or vegetation covered by the NPW Act, TSC Act and the EPBC Act.

How to report tree vandalism

Anyone wishing to report an act of suspected tree vandalism should contact Council's Call Centre on 1300 722 542 or email council@randwick.nsw.gov.au or ring Maroubra Police on 9349 9299.

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