Black Head Bowling Club will be required to pay MidCoast Council $5,000 per year over five years after the club accepted responsibility for unlawfully clearing a section of environmentally-protected Crown Land next to the club last November.
This follows a lengthy joint investigation into the clearing by council and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
The enforceable undertaking will see the bowling club fund the preparation and implementation of a plan of management for the damaged area, which was approximately 600 square metres in size and classified as 'littoral rainforest' and 'littoral rainforest proximity area' under the State Environmental Planning Policy - Coastal Management.
"This plan of management will include remediation of the area and improvements to the rainforest walk, including informative signage and a drinking water station," a statement from council said.
"Funds will also be spent on maintenance of the walk to both improve safety and protect the environment.
"The plan will also include active management by council of vegetation located in close proximity to the boundary of the bowling club to minimise adverse impacts and risk to the club's assets and visitors."
The clearing controversially took place on November 13, 2019, during the first of three state of emergencies declared in NSW last bushfire season.
Management at the club contacted member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, on November 12 seeking permission to clear the area on the grounds the club could be threatened by fire.
Mr Bromhead granted the club permission, despite the land being managed by council on behalf of Crown Land and therefore not falling under his jurisdiction.
It is understood management at the club had made a number of requests to council in the past to have the vegetation around their premises cleared, but on each occasion they'd been advised that because of the protected status of the land, an environmental impact assessment would need to be completed by the club first.
This was never done.
It's significant enough to ensure in the future people would think twice about interfering with protected vegetation.Alan Pursch
Hallidays Point Landcare volunteer, Alan Pursch, is satisfied with the outcome of the investigation after following it closely over the past eight months.
He and his fellow Landcare members have been working to preserve rainforest in the Hallidays Point area for decades and were horrified when the clearing took place.
"I think it's a good result," Mr Pursch said.
"It's significant enough to ensure in the future people would think twice about interfering with protected vegetation.
"I really appreciate all the people who worked towards this outcome."
The full details of the enforced undertaking are available here.
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