Chainsaw vandals hack at trees to get better Sydney harbour view - 2 minutes read

Councils in the state of New South Wales can issue fines up to A$3,000 ($1,955; £1,565) for individuals and A$6,000 for companies. That climbs up to A$5m for individuals or companies they pursue through the courts.

But local governments say that while the motive is plain and the culprits are often obvious, making them pay is another story.

Councils must build a case against the suspected slashers themselves, which is difficult and costly, given they aren't investigative bodies.

Police help where they can, but prosecutions are often near impossible and almost pointless. Ultimately, there are few convictions, and penalties are so low people shrug them off.

According to the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, 90 cases of unlawful clearing have been prosecuted in the state over the past five years. The top penalty in that period was A$348,000, for a farmer who cut down 5 sq km (1.9 sq miles) of vegetation - an area almost double the size of Sydney's main business district.

The regulations pale in comparison to those in countries like the UK, where in 2023 the government introduced uncapped fines and jail time for anyone illegally felling trees.

"People are paying between A$3m and A$8m for some of these houses - maybe more," says Bill.

"Paying some turkey A$10,000 to cut down a few trees is nothing, and paying the council a fine is probably nothing as well."

Source: BBC News

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