Quindalup resident instructed to plant 1,300 trees after a fire

Quindalup resident Alex Hotait has been instructed by the City of Busselton to plant 1,300 trees after "dead" vegetation was removed when a blaze got out of control on his property.
Quindalup resident Alex Hotait has been instructed by the City of Busselton to plant 1,300 trees after "dead" vegetation was removed when a blaze got out of control on his property.

In December last year, a small burn off at a rural block in Quindalup got out of control, it burnt through three-quarters of the property and threatened a neighbouring home and business.

After it took firefighters an hour to attend the blaze, property owner Alex Hotait said the firies declared the incident as an emergency and gave him an 'order'to put in fire breaks at his home.

"I was told the fire breaks were compulsory and was given an order, I was also told some trees were growing to close to our water tank and over the septic tank," Mr Hotait said.

"They said firefighters would not be able to access the back of my property and told me to get rid of all the dangerous scrub, trees and woody weed with all that dead undergrowth.

"So I did that and had an arborist come in for eco-land clearing, I followed the order I was given and finished the work a few months later.

"Then the council arrived after a neighbouring property owner complained, he did not want a fire break near his property and said I should not have done this because it was illegal."

After a complaint was made to the City of Busselton by one of Mr Hotait's neighbours, city officers arrived at his property advising him he required a development application to remove trees.

Under Local Planning Scheme No.21 a development application is required for the removal of vegetation except for undertaking approved development, essential for achieving fire protection or vegetation that immediately endangers life or property.

"I was given instructions to clear the trees back to the bushfire protection zone, which is 20 metres away from the house - we did that," he said.

"I was also told to protect my water tank, which the council said was not an asset, even though it cost me $40,000 and is my only water source."

Mr Hotait was advised by city officers that compliance at the city overrode any bushfire compliance.

"They have now given me an order to plant 1,300 trees and shrubs, even though the mulched area is regrowing," he said.

The matter is set to go before the State Administrative Tribunal after Mr Hotait and his wife lodged an application seeking approval for clearing a "few dead, dying and danger trees" on his property.

He is also hoping the tribunal will approve the installation of a fence after the old one was damaged in the fire and grant permission to plant deciduous trees such as orchids to create a cool area in a high fire risk location.

The City of Busselton would not comment on the matter as it is due to go to the tribunal.