Draft tree vandalism policy open for public comment

A draft policy to deter and respond to vandalism of trees and vegetation on private and council-owned and council-managed land is on exhibition for public comment.
Central Coast Council’s draft policy does not apply land where the council is not an “authorised regulatory authority”.
It applies to all people and organisations within the council’s area, including “personnel employed by Council; any person or organisation contracted to or acting on behalf of Council; or any person or organisation employed to work on Council premises or facilities”.
Alleged breaches of the policy by council staff would be dealt with under the Council’s code of conduct.
The draft policy aims “to promote the value of trees and vegetation across the Central Coast LGA and a greater understanding of the implications from damage or injury to trees and vegetation”.
It aims “to provide consistency in the investigation and response to tree and vegetation vandalism incidents, and to share experience, expertise and resources within Council”.
It also aims “to promote broader community involvement in the prevention and reporting of vandalism and assisting in the investigation following vandalism incident”.
Its ultimate aim is “to achieve a reduction in the illegal vandalism or removal of trees and vegetation”.
Among the principles proposed are that “the identification and prosecution of perpetrators of public tree or vegetation vandalism should be pursued consistently” and that “education is a key mechanism to promote the value of trees and vegetation”.
The draft policy states that compliance may be achieved by education, monitoring and prevention, regulatory enforcement and rehabilitation of vandalised sites.
While not part of the draft policy itself, an associated information sheet reveals that investigations under the policy may not be subject to public scrutiny.
In answer to the question “Will I be told of the outcome of the investigation?”, the sheet states: “You will be advised that the investigation has been completed.
“However, Council is required to operate in accordance with the current NSW privacy legislation.
“Therefore, all investigations are confidential.
“Customers can lodge a formal GIPA (freedom on information request) if they wish to seek the outcome of the investigation, however it is unlikely that Council would disclose this information.”
Submissions and feedback will be accepted by the council until 5pm on Thursday, October 29.

Website, 30 Sep 2020
YourVoiceOurCoast, Central Coast Council