The Beagle Editor,
Solicitors representing a Sydney development company have threatened Dalmeny Matters community group with legal action, in response to efforts by the group to collect data on threatened species in the 100 hectares of bushland proposed for clearing and subdivision.
The heavy handed letter, which states that Dalmeny Matters has been encouraging locals to trespass on private land, threatens legal action at a Supreme Court level and asks for the names of members of the group.
"As you would likely be aware, any entry onto land which is privately owned without the consent of the owner is trespass and may be considered a criminal offence. Any such entry would also be considered tortious trespass such as to give rise to Supreme Court proceedings.
Such proceedings would be costly and may involve an award of damages. If our client is forced by the conduct of your officials and members to take such action they would also seek their costs of any such proceedings."
Dalmeny Matters Hopes Developers Willing to Work With the Community
Dalmeny Matters hopes that the company, currently working with Eurobodalla Shire Council on development plans for the bushland, may be willing to work with the community in good faith.
Sally Christiansen is a spokesperson for the group. She lives in Dalmeny with her partner and two kids.
"We were pretty shocked to receive a threatening letter like this. It is the first contact the community has had with the developer. It’s not exactly a great start! It is so important for us as a community to be able to engage with the developers about the future of our home. We are stakeholders in this- we live here."
Inaturalist Project for Dalmeny- Threatened Species
Dalmeny Matters has set up an Inaturalist Project for Dalmeny, to help build a picture of the biodiversity of the area.
"We want to have as thorough an understanding of the bushland- the plants, birds and animals that live there- as possible, so that any planning can be done in a careful and responsible way. We have vulnerable species such as Yellow-bellied Gliders, Gang-gangs, Grey Headed Flying Foxes and Glossy Black Cockatoos here.
It is scary to be contemplating the loss of such a big area and all that it could mean for the character and wellbeing of our community."
Inaturalist Australia is a collaboration between The Inaturalist Network, the Atlas of Living Australia and the CSIRO.
It is an app that allows users to record species by taking a photo or recording a sound.
An Inaturalist project captures all observations which exist for a defined area. Dalmeny Matter’s project encompasses the Dalmeny Development Area, adjacent State Forest, public land and residential land.
Any observations in the designated area, made by any Inaturalist user has and will be captured by the project automatically.
Dalmeny Matters has organised volunteer groups for Inaturalist training under a bushfire recovery grant awarded to the Coastwatchers association by the State Government.
Locals may not be aware that the bushland is private property
Dalmeny Matters has replied to the Solicitors letter to say that they are "ready, willing and able to attempt to facilitate an appropriate arrangement with your client to facilitate the progress of the Inaturalist Project."
Ms Christiansen stated that "Contributing would help the community to feel involved and respected as part of this process. It would show us that the developers care about the community and the area; that they are not just a big faceless company that threatens community members or hides behind scary lawyers."
In the meantime, the Solicitors acting for the Development Company have asked Dalmeny Matters to tell the community that "our client does not consent to any unauthorized member of the public attending on their private property for any purpose".
As the bushland is not signposted or fenced, locals may not be aware that the bushland encircling the village is private property. Lot 54 Duesburys Rd is over 64 hectares, stretching from the Dalmeny Industrial Estate, with the Old Highway as the western boundary, to the area behind Eucalyptus Dr, Maculata Cct and Coastal Ct. Dalmeny Matters