Guilty plea in tree case

BYRON BAY businessman Michael Hume Fletcher has pleaded guilty to illegally removing melaleuca trees at his Raywards Lane property in breach of a Byron Shire Council Tree Preservation Order.

However, the owner of Byron Bay Earthmoving is pleading not guilty to accusations he unlawfully transported/ deposited waste in 2008; using land as a waste facility without lawful authority; failing to comply with a clean-up notice; failing to comply with a prevention notice; and carrying out development without consent (the removal of trees).

When the ongoing matters returned before magistrate Nicholas Reimer just before Christmas, the businessman’s lawyer Owen Hughes entered a written plea of guilty to the one offence.

To back up its case, the council used an aerial photograph of Fletcher’s property taken in October 2008 that showed trees which appeared to have been pushed over.

When asked why they had been removed Fletcher wrote it was done for the purpose of agriculture, being tea tree oil production. An on-site inspection by council officers found two stacks of trees near a shed.

The matters were adjourned to February 8.



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