PARKERVILLE resident Bob Roget says Mundaring Shire narrowly avoided a second costly court case after accusing him of illegally removing trees from his property.
He said the cost to ratepayers would have been ‘astronomical’ given the Shire’s unsuccessful prosecution against the owner of two dogs accused of killing and maiming 39 sheep in The Lakes in 2016.
A three-day criminal trial in January ruled the Shire was unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt the dogs had committed the offence.
After repeated attempts to identify the trial costs, The Gazette revealed the Shire spent almost $93,000 on the attempted prosecution.
Mr Roget said in his case he was issued a writ and shown ‘before and after’ aerial images taken by the Shire in 2017 of about eight to 10 trees missing from a forested section of his 32-hectare property.
He said he did not know how or when the trees were removed and suggested thieves may have chopped them down.
He also told the Shire he had permitted neighbours to remove fallen dead wood from his property and not existing trees.
A week before the trial on March 19 2018, Mr Roget told the Shire they could not win the case.
“I referred to the dog trial and the Shire complaining about people chopping down wood on their own property and asked if they would be willing to sue themselves?”
The case of the missing trees was resolved out of court with Mr Roget agreeing to the Shire’s request to plant more trees.
“Initially the Shire asked me to plant about 100 trees and after some discussion I agreed to plant 20,” he said.
“I’ve put in 1000 trees in the 12 years I’ve been here and interestingly, most of the trees the Shire said were missing have regrown.”
A Shire spokeswoman said “a mutually satisfactory outcome was arrived at by all parties”.
The Shire did not answer questions about the case of the missing trees or disclose the legal costs incurred before a resolution was reached.
Mr Roget no longer owns the ‘missing tree’ section of the property, having subdivided and sold a portion of his land in August last year.
In the process, he had to remove about 60 developed trees from the perimeter of the property as part of firebreak requirements for the subdivision.
The penalty for the wrongful removal of trees by a corporation is $1 million and Mr Roget’s property is owned by his company, Intercorp Proprietary Limited.
Native vegetation including trees are protected where classified as Local Nature Area under the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4.