Councillors vote in favour of testing Dividing Fences Act in court

The fight to reduce the number of Leylandii in the shire continues.

Councillors voted at the April 11 meeting to take a tougher stance on Leylandii planted in the shire which are ‘stealing’ views and vistas.

Cr Larry Whipper moved that council identify any properties adjoining a council road or road frontage where Leylandii were planted along a common boundary with council or community land where they have to potential to steal views.

Following this, council will serve a Fencing Notice to those identified properties as a step in the process of a dispute before applying to the Local Court or NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an order about fencing work under the Dividing Fences Act 1991.

He argued council was a landowner on behalf of the community and as such had rights under the Act.

“Given that alone we could test this in court I believe very strongly because there is a division between the courts and government,” he said.

The issue has already been brought to the attention of the Minister for Planning but Cr Whipper said they were yet to have any success with the state government.

“Three or four successive ministers we’ve actually put our case [to], and very strong cases.”

He said there were many residents in the shire who were “seriously frustrated” by the problems Leylandii caused.

While Cr Duncan Gair was supportive of the idea, he raised the issue of what a court case could cost the community.

He moved an amendment to seek legal advice before making a decision on the motion which was defeated.

Cr Whipper said blocked views impacted on tourism, amenity, history, cultural landscapes and roadsides that were blocked by Leylandii were safety hazards with black ice an issue in winter.

“I think just to walk away from an opportunity without testing it, shows not a lot of backbone.”

During the debate, Cr Ken Halstead wished Cr Whipper luck with his motion but said he would not be supporting it.

“I have no problem with Leylandii at all.

“I’m right into looking after the environment but I don’t believe that an individual should be told what they can and cannot plant wherever.”

Those in favour of the motion emphasised it was not about Leylandii which were being used as wind breaks on a property but rather those planted along the fence line which blocked views and vistas.

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