Kings Forest developer fined for illegal land clearing
THE Tweed development company behind the Tweed Kings Forest project has been fined $32,500 for clearing a narrow strip of land in Cudgen Nature Reserve in March 2011.
Leda Development is also facing costs of $100,000 to $150,000 to rehabilitate the cleared land plus court costs of $38,000.
The Land and Environment Court in Sydney this week heard that Leda instructed routine drainage maintenance to be carried out at Kings Forest, including the removal of debris from the upper reaches of Blacks Creek which runs through the Kings Forest site.
But workers mistakenly strayed into the Cudgen reserve and cleared a strip of land about eight meters wide by 320 meters long in a virtually inaccessible area of the reserve in order to facilitate the mechanical cleaning of the creek.
Leda's Tweed manager Reg van Rij discovered the illegal clearing and reported the incident to the relevant authorities.
According to a press release issued by Leda, the court found that the company did not commit the offence "for commercial gain" and accepted that the offence "resulted from a mistake and not negligence".
Justice J Pain said the fact that the defendant had discovered the mistake itself and reported it to authorities, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to do so and its "prompt offer to rehabilitate the land, at some expense, demonstrated a level of remorse."
He also noted that Leda had implemented corrective actions, including boundary signage and employee training, to prevent any reoccurrence.
He ordered that rehabilitation of the strip of land be carried out within 12 months