Relief at Violet Town court ruling

By Alana Christensen

A Violet Town beef and sheep producer says he feels relieved after a Shepparton magistrate cleared him over a dispute with Strathbogie Shire Council about a boundary fence.

Kevin Sloan, who operates his family’s 404ha property, was taken to court by the council for removing a number of trees along Dookie-Violet Town Rd and Panters Rd early last year without obtaining a permit.

He argued he had previously received advice from a council officer that he could trim trees within 4m of his fenceline.

The magistrate ruled Mr Sloan had undertaken the works based on incorrect advice and, although Mr Sloan admitted to conducting the works without a written planning permit, no conviction or fine was recorded.

Mr Sloan said the outcome was ‘‘good for me’’, but was concerned about the cost the case had on ratepayers.

‘‘It’s only happened because they gave me the wrong information,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not (the council’s) money that they have been wasting all along.

‘‘(The process has) been pretty stressful, it’s taken its toll. It’s been over 18 months from day dot to now.’’

Strathbogie Shire Mayor Amanda McClaren said the court case ‘‘draws closure on this matter for all parties’’.

‘‘This also displays that council is serious in its endeavours to ensuring the community has regard for the environment and the law,’’ Cr McClaren said.

‘‘Through this process, our contractors and landowners have become more aware of the Planning & Environment Act and the requirements associated with working with native vegetation.

‘‘Whilst the majority of our community value the environment we live in and ensure they are doing the right thing, it is unfortunate that some do not and this places undue pressure on council resources to proceed with ensuring that the minority are investigated.’’