Blue Mountains Council could launch legal action against a Woodford homeowner for alleged illegal land clearing

Under investigations: The Woodford property after the tree clearing, and (inset) an aerial shot before the vegetation was removed.
Under investigations: The Woodford property after the tree clearing, and (inset) an aerial shot before the vegetation was removed.

Blue Mountains City Council could launch legal action against a Woodford homeowner who may have illegally cleared 1400 square metres of native vegetation around the home.

The council spokeswoman said investigations are underway into the extent of the recent clearing at 18-20 Old Bathurst Road in Woodford.

It allegedly involves about 1000 m2 of native vegetation to the west (rear) of the house and an area of approximately 400 m2 of native and exotic vegetation to the east (front) of the house.

The spokeswoman said while the Mid Mountains property was located within the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement area, “the extent and method of vegetation clearing has been carried out contrary to the 10/50 Code of Practice”.

“Currently, investigations remain on-going and council is considering a range of regulatory options,” the council spokeswoman said.

“It would be premature and inappropriate for council to speculate what that action may involve at this time.   

The house changed hands last year, selling for $1.3 million in December.

Blue Mountains Conservation Society vice president Tara Cameron said she was “very disturbed” by the removal of Blue Mountains heath and scrub, which meant the house could also now be seen from the Great Western Highway.

“The land appears to have been stripped of all vegetation, including trees, shrubs and grasses.

“The area in question is highly visible from the highway, railway and high points in Woodford.

“As the clearing is substantial, with vegetation removed down to bare earth, there is a real risk of soil erosion and impacts on water quality, as well as the loss of fauna and flora habitat and visual amenity,” Ms Cameron said.

The council spokeswoman said they had directed the property owner to install appropriate sediment and erosion control measures to stabilise the site to minimise erosion.

She said a follow-up inspection by council officers had confirmed works had been carried out with “vegetation and mulch material and geotextile fabric fencing”.

Ms Cameron said the Society would be referring the matter to the Office of Environment and Heritage for investigation under the Native Vegetation Act. 

The maximum penalty can range from infringement notices of $1,500 up to fines imposed by a court of $250,000 for an individual.

“Blue Mountains residents must feel confident that land owners cannot get away with disregarding laws aimed at protecting the natural environment,” Ms Cameron said.

The owner has been asked for comment by the Blue Mountains Gazette.