Are Byron Shire Council’s complaint procedures a potential train wreck ? Suggestions for Council to stay directly on the right track.


A small history review

Back in the year 2005, I made my first representation to Byron Shire Council concerning the environmental protection of mature native trees.   Council’s response to me, in part, in their letter to me dated 25 July 2005, and I quote – “The resources of Council’s Compliance Department do not allow for an immediate response to each request for Council action.”  As evidenced by my previously published article, Byron Shire Council’s Compliance Department’s responses have been failures.

In the year 2017, Council still maintains the same line of procrastinations, with not much apparently being done. On Friday 26 May 2017, I made complaint representations to Council for their consideration.  Unless otherwise notified by Council, my understanding is up to a week later, no on-site inspection had been made to assess my complaint.  However, Council had the management resources and time to prepare a 4 page official letter which was forwarded to me by email at 2.59 pm on 2 June 2017, which in essence included Council’s following final statement to me, and again I quote in part – “As a result of this, all future communication with Council must now be made in writing by post to the General Manager…..or by email…” This aforesaid commentary demonstrates Council’s unfettered discretionary powers and dealing with community ratepayers with impunity.  Welcome to the Byron Shire and the old “shoot the messenger” syndrome.

How did Robert respond to all of this

Prior to receiving Council’s elaborate 4 page letter on the afternoon of 2 June 2017, earlier at 12.14 pm, I forwarded to the General Manager of Byron Shire Council my concerns at not being able to make phone contact with specific Council officers, who were aware of my complaint representations.  A copy of my email to the General Manager is noted below.

It is important to understand that prior to forwarding this email, earlier that same day, I had not been able to make contact by phone with relevant Council officers, even though I was asked to call back in half an hour’s time,  which I did, and I was still not afforded the courtesy of access.


Mr Ken Gainger
General Manager
Byron Shire Council.

Good afternoon Ken,

We have tried unsuccessfully four times by phone
this morning to make contact with Council personnel
who have discussed case number CRM #### with us

The intended purpose of our proposed calls this morning
was to provide relevant positive and helpful update information
to this case.

As evidenced by our case number, Council appears to be
overwhelmed with complaint enquiries and seemingly, has
insufficient staff to deal with these matters.

Could you please encourage one of your two staff who have
been directly involved with this case to kindly contact us again
in a timely manner, so we can provide our update.

We fully understand how overwhelmed Council are with the
magnitude of complaints received from the Byron Shire
community, and perhaps consideration should be given to
streamlining this process and determining why there are so
many complaints directed to Council from within our community.

Our experience has been that when phone contact is attempted
to be made, brick walls are put up by ancillary staff. The message
we are getting from Council is – please do not contact us as we are
far too busy to get interested.

At the same time, it is more than acceptable for Council to receive
prompt rate payments from us for the past 38 years.

Your assistance is requested.


Robert and Gillian Prikulis


The CRM concealed number referred to in my above email represents the cumulative logged complaint numbers since 1 January 2017.  At the date of my original complaint submission on Friday 26 May 2017, it was running at more than 4,700, implying that at this year’s half way mark, it could be more than 5,000.  The number of ratepayers currently existing in the Byron Shire is about 15,300.  If my submitted figures require correction, please advise me.

Additionally, find below, our extract email response made at 4.21pm on 2 June 2017 to the earlier 4 page letter emailed to me from the Byron Shire Council.


Good afternoon #######,

I am dictating this email to my wife, as I have a blindness condition.

We are disappointed with your unjustified letter to us forwarded in
your email at 2.59 pm today.

It is important to note that our legitimate enquiry phone calls were
made by both my wife and myself.

We were asked to ring back in half an hour, which we did to our
contact person, which was again unsuccessful.

The purpose of our phone contact, which did not happen, was to pass
on important positive update information about our case.  This
opportunity was denied to us, and we now receive your template rebuke
to our attempt to be helpful in this matter.

Your letter response to our attempt to make contact with Council
officers was over the top and unwarranted.

Copied below is our email forwarded to your General Manager,
Mr Ken Gainger, at 12.14 pm earlier today.

Our intention is to make representation on this matter and your
letter forwarded to us, to elected Councillors, being community

We simply find your letter of today most unreasonable, extreme, not helpful
and unacceptable to us.


Robert and Gillian Prikulis


On the evidence of Council’s  letter to us, it appears that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Council’s 4 page emailed letter makes no reference to my earlier email of that day addressed to the General Manager.

My suggestions to Council to facilitate an improved complaints management system

  • Practise a professional Public Servant ethos with ratepayers and other persons who try to make complaint representations to Council.  Continual procrastinations and excuses do not represent proper attention to the job.
  • The extremely high numbers of complaints logged by Council staff represents a serious level of dissatisfaction within the Byron Shire community.  Council’s capacity to properly deal with the high numbers of complaints no doubt results in staff stress itself, and associated stress to the person making the complaint.  Perhaps more staff and better systems could be implemented to address these growing failures.
  • Council’s attitude to the Byron Shire ratepayers and community’s complaints needs a new direction.  More fruitful time could be spent dealing with the work rather than writing 4 paged template rebukes.
  • To properly undertake this investigation work, Council could consider introducing a payment system to register and log complaints made, in order to effect results in a timely manner.  This may result in a decrease of complaint numbers.
  • Council should consider a methodology to actually deal with complaints so that persons know where they stand after a complaint is made and logged.  Within Council’s website, an online chronological data base should be established, open and  accessible to the community with numbered complaints being able to be tracked online to ascertain Council’s progress and decision to the complaint made.  Similar to how a DA can be tracked today online. This type of open system will bring more certainty and less stress to all stakeholders.
  • If a person is dissatisfied with Council’s decision regarding a complaint made, Council should put in place the opportunity of an appeal process to that decision for the interested person.

The purpose of my article is to attempt to facilitate a much needed investigative review of the current, in my view, failing practices by Byron Shire Council and their need to lift their game in the management of the existing complaint procedures and processes.

All we wanted to do was to provide a positive update of our complaint to Council.


.Staying on the rails, on track and heading in the right direction,
should be Council’s Objective.


Vulnerable escarpment lands under pressure in the Byron Shire, Part 3

Is Environmental Protection a green myth at Coorabell  ?


Turning healthy mature native trees into poles


Extreme branch lopping does not help mature native trees survive


More than 30 years to grow and about 60 seconds to cut down


Plant trees ~ grow trees ~ protect your trees ~ for the benefit of all


What is the primary objective of multiple assaults of tree cutting and tree interference of mature native trees on the same property, on the Coorabell Escarpment, in a 7 (d) Scenic / Escarpment Protection Zone ? In my opinion, simply to attempt to enhance the property’s views for monetary gain.

Between 2008 and 2014, Byron Shire Council has issued the following enforcement penalty orders for the unlawful cutting down of multiple mature native trees on this same property, on different occasions by different owners, at the time.  Tree felling on this property was first brought to the attention of Council in 2005.

  • 2008 – The unlawful cutting down of 24 mature native trees.  Byron Shire Council issued a penalty order to the owner to implement a tree restoration plan, to replant the 24 trees, their ongoing maintenance  and noxious weed management.
  • 2009 – The extreme lopping and removal of the canopy of approximately 50 mature native trees, and incomprehensibly, no penalty issued by Byron Shire Council.  Commented upon and strongly criticized by the Senior Solicitor of the Lismore NSW Environmental Defender’s Office in a letter to Council, dated 15 October 2009.
  • 2012 - The unlawful cutting down  of 4 mature native trees.  Byron Shire Council issued a penalty order to undertake a replanting program which involved the replacement of 50 trees and weed control.

  • 2014 – 13 October; Byron Shire Council advises by email that the current owners have accepted responsibility for the unlawful felling of 12 mature native trees on 24 July 2014, and Council has issued a penalty infringement notice of a $1,500 fine.  The property owners will also be required to replant and maintain similar trees to those removed.  A notation of the Council Order has been placed on Council’s internal Property Register.  If the property owners re-offend, Council has indicated that it would issue a Court attendance notice.  Provision is also made for the owners, if they so desire, to have this current enforcement penalty referred to and determined by the local court.

Is there a better way of enforcing environmental protection of mature native trees, that are cut down to enhance property views ?

There is a raft of existing, varying and sometimes conflicting legislation, which impacts on enforcement penalties for the cutting down of trees, for the purpose only of obtaining views ( posted 14 December 2014 ).  A clear policy determination by Council in this regard, would be helpful to the community and provide a more effective deterrent.

In my experience, orders for replanting and/or the implementing on the ground of a tree restoration plan, have been failures.  The proper monitoring,  nurturing and maintenance of replaced trees just does not happen.  Importantly, the obligation to restore felled trees rests with the owner, and this obligation is extinguished when a property is sold, and does not seem to pass on to the new owner.  Additionally, enforcement penalties issued by Council, do not again seem to take into account a previous history of multiple infringements on the same property.

Where trees have been detrimentally interfered with by a previous owner, Council should refuse an application to fell these supposed “sick or dying” trees.

A suggested role for a property Certificate of Title in environmental tree protection.

The act of unlawful tree felling permanently alters the property landscape and recovery to the original status is almost impossible.  As an effective deterrent to repeat offenders, it is suggested that an easement on the ground, for the protection of trees and/or a management statement for tree restoration be placed on the notations section of the Certificate of Title of the subject property.  This results in enforcement conditions being attached to the property and not being extinguished on change of ownership.  An easement for tree protection can be created, together with details as to how it operates, showing the location extent in a Registered Plan of Survey.

The easement or management statement should only be removed when the existing owner demonstrates full compliance with Council directives.  These title notifications should not be effected by a change of property ownership and should only be removed on Council’s satisfaction.  When a land title’s property search is undertaken, any person can then be immediately made aware of the responsibilities attached to that property.  It is common practice for interests to be noted on a Certificate of Title.


Robert Crumb’s interpretation sort of says it all !


Posted : 20 December 2014

Dear Reader – making representations to the proper authority, being Byron Shire Council, concerning current and repeated offenses with respect to the unlawful felling of mature native trees, has resulted in us being intimidated by Council itself with trivial and largely officious, unenforceable directions.  So what’s new.  Simply, the shoot the messenger syndrome.  Moving at a glacial pace, Byron Shire Council don’t, won’t or can’t answer clear questions put to them by us and on our instructions, by our legal representative.  This Council does not seem to recognize that multiple penalized offenses have occurred in the same locality, issuing soft penalties, which have little or no deterrent.  From our perspective, in terms of environmental degradation, Byron Shire Council itself, through it’s ineffectual inaction, becomes part of the problem.  This Council strongly promotes itself as an environmental local government organization, but does not, in our opinion, walk the talk.  In stark comparison, under the current NSW Rural Fires Act, fines of up to $132,000 and a maximum of up to 7 years jail is applicable to offenders who deliberately break the existing fire laws ( Northern Star, 25 October 2014 ).  Contrast this with a $1,500 fine for multiple unlawful tree felling for the third separate occasion by different persons.  With respect to the aforesaid, Byron Shire Council has never taken these matters to Court.

Additionally, the amenity and quiet enjoyment of our property has been impacted upon us personally by retaliation and malice, resulting from our recent justifiable complaint  to Byron Shire Council, concerning the unlawful mature native tree felling on 24 July 2014.  It is our view, that Council itself has inflamed this situation.

Community and local government dissatisfaction with the abuse of tree and vegetation clearing rules, which came into use on 1 August 2014, resulted in amendments being made on 27 November 2014 by the NSW Rural Fire Service, while a current overall review is being undertaken.

Posted : 22 October 2015

The aforesaid review has now been completed, resulting in the following adopted policy documents -
1.   NSW Government Review of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Entitlement Scheme, dated August 2015.
2.  NSW Rural Fire Service 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice for New South Wales, dated 4 September 2015

Posted : 20 November 2015

The Byron Shire Echo Netdaily report titled – Byron council downgrades key environment role, dated 20 November 2015 – appears to shed light on some of my comments made in this Journal Blog article – ” Is Environmental Protection a green myth at Coorabell ? “

Posted : 16 April 2016

Extract, page 14, Byron Shire Draft Rural Land Use Strategy, March 2016 – ” Policy Directions for Our Rural Environment - 5. Future rural lifestyle living opportunities will preserve scenic amenity, minimise environmental impacts and better manage natural or man made hazard risks. “


Plant trees ~ grow trees ~ protect your trees ~ for the benefit of all


Dedicated to Bill Taylor ~ master botanist.

Byron Shire Land Surveyor Consultancy for Sale ~ whole or part

Components sale offer, my Land Surveyor Consultancy practice, located 10 minutes from Byron Bay

My Coorabell based sole practitioner Land Surveying Consultancy, located 10 minutes from Byron Bay, within the Byron Shire, is available for purchase  ~  whole or part. My business sale offer would be suitable for a New South Wales Registered Land Surveyor seeking a professional and lifestyle change, working in the eclectic Byron Shire, on the far north coast of NSW.

Business offer components for sale of my Coorabell based Land Surveyor Consultancy

1. Survey practice business intangibles ~ entree ticket, intellectual property, my goodwill, market presence ~  inclusive of my survey practice jobs documentation in hardcopy format.  ( My land and property survey search sold as separate component 3. )

2. On request, my current rate and variety of jobs enquiries, will be supplied. My onward land survey jobs enquiries referral, to the purchaser, by negotiation. Components 1 or 2, cannot be purchased separately.

Optional components 3 & 4

3. Extensive cadastral land and property survey search for the Byron Shire, supplied in digital format.  All search items offered as one lot only.

4. Modern array of practical field and office land surveying equipment offered as one lot only ~ inclusive of Sokkia CX103 Reflectorless 3″ Total Station instrument, brand new and still under warranty ~ SOLD.   The balance of the survey equipment may be purchased separately.  Optional availability to buy also ~ Stanley, The Eltham, 20″ arc Vernier Theodolite in original wooden case, and Curta mechanical calculator, with manual.

For your confidential initial enquiry, phone Robert on (02) 6684 7799.

Any proposed sale and terms will be subject to mutually acceptable, signed off,  formal legal contract.

Vincite opus ~ facis opus ~ mercedem


.” This is what has most impressed me and may well be a shallow thing, but I have admired most of all expertise, the quality of being strictly professional.  This must be understood to extend to every aspect of living within the individual purview so that the business of having lived has been done, in all directions, with competence, its obligations discharged without blemish, its satisfactions achieved in the knowledge of their excellence. “Lucius Beebe.




Some experiences of a Land Surveyor with Macular Degeneration ~ growing an information resource for better future eyesight outcomes.

Regeneration ~ not degeneration

compassion               creativity               courage


Caution alert ~ Dear reader, this narrative is about vision loss.  Should you find this distressing, please leave this page.  I also am stepping out of my personal comfort zone in writing and publishing this article.

The first port of call for any eyesight concern is always the medical professional.

The primary rationale of this journal entry is to plant a seed for the development of an organic knowledge base, in the public interest, specifically for probable future cures for the wet form of Macular Degeneration.  Eyesight malfunctions are numerous, and this journal entry is specific to the wet form of Macular Degeneration only.

My commentary is from the perspective of a non-medical layperson, who has experienced wet Macular Degeneration and it’s profound impacts for the past twenty years.  Again, my purpose is to seek out information for the benefit of all, of the latest developments with respect to the medical treatment of wet Macular Degeneration.  Relevant contributions addressing the theme of this page, would be most welcome.

How to instantly lose the best part of your eyesight, with no current prospect of a recovery

A very basic explanation of the vision process is firstly required.  One’s eyesight consists of two primary components – peripheral vision and macular vision.  Fine accuracy vision is provided by the macular, which enables one to read normally and view detail.

Out of the blue, twenty years ago, at aged 47 years, I lost the central macular vision of my right eye in an instant and was introduced to the world of Ophthalmologists and the terminology, the wet form of Macular Degeneration.  Medical treatment available at that time, did not recover my lost central sight.  Subsequent emphasis was directed to preserve the healthy eyesight of my good left eye.  I was able to continue to work successfully as a professional Land Surveyor.



Out of the blue ~ Round 2, down for the count

My greatest fear was that this could happen to me again.  After twenty years of constant monitoring and checking of my good left eye by Ophthalmologists, my dreaded fear happened suddenly in late 2012, and again, I lost the central vision in my good healthy eye to the wet form of Macular Degeneration.  The wet form of Macular Degeneration is precipitated by a blood vessel eruption or leakage in the retina, which may cause irrepairable damage to the macular, resulting in central vision loss.  On this second occasion, the haemorrhage occurred under the retina.

Although the blood vessel haemorrhages were twenty years apart, medical treatments undertaken, inclusive of intraocular gas applications, were almost identical.  The new exceptions being in 2012/2013, the use of laser retinal scanning imagery and follow-up injections of Lucentis into my left eye.  In my case, leading to no vision improvement in this eye.

For me currently, and as it was twenty years ago, there is no cure to recover this lost vision.  If I’m  incorrect in my statement, I and many others would gladly like to be advised of an available treatment solution.  In my situation, because of family history, medical experts concur that I had a genetic predisposition to the wet form of Macular Degeneration.

My central area of vision for both eyes is obscured, replaced by a featureless grey smudge, with no visual precision – just a blur.  Letters and words cannot be identified.  The remainder of my peripheral vision can identify lines of text, however they cannot be read by me.  Images that I can see are blurry, distorted, sometimes with parts missing, with no sharp focus.

For me, the exponential domino effect of not being able to read in everyday living, has had the most profound impacts.  My passion to practice as a Consultant Land Surveyor has been stopped stone cold.

It’s not lights out ~ what’s next for tomorrow

Ophthalmologists, optometrists and orthoptists have advised me that there is no current cure to recover vision loss, caused by the wet form of  Macular Degeneration.  A damaged or atrophied macular (end stage disciform scarring and geographic atrophy) does not necessarily imply “lights out” – as put to me by one medical expert.  In my case, some peripheral vision remains, facilitating a reduced eyesight.  Unlike cataract removal surgery and the wonderful clear lens replacement, there is no universal plug-in or external optical fix for a damaged macular – not just yet.

A breakthrough in vision restoration for the future, may lie in the direction of a much sought after cell regenerative process.  Regenerative, meaning the repairing of an eye component part, that the body cannot repair naturally.  My layman’s speculation is that a practical successful treatment for wet Macular Degeneration, resulting in correct vision recovery, is more than 10 years away. On behalf of the wider affected community, I dearly hope that I’m wrong.

Key information links

Six years in the murk, but not lights out

Eye on the Cure

My Macular Degeneration Journey ~ by Linda and Sue

eSight ~ digital eyewear for people with low vision

Eye Conditions

A current organic knowledge base in chronological order ~ seeking future treatment options for wet Macular Degeneration ~ see 100 links

Gene-editing tool CRISPR used in blind US patient to attempt to restore sight

Wet Macular Degeneration ~ a valuable animated video explanation

The Patriot ViewPoint – The Blind Life

Why is Assistive Technology so Expensive – The Blind Life

People with disability both liberated and left behind by today’s tech

Legally blind photographer

Stem cell-based retina therapy to treat blindness – University of California, Irvine.

New Stem Cell Treatment Reverses Vision Loss in 2 Patients

Gene therapy for inherited eye disease – MDFA

Stem cell therapy reverses sight loss and lets people read again

Macular Degeneration: Stem Cells Restore Sight in Small Study

First serious adverse reaction to iPS-derived retinal cell transplant reported

Life After Sight Loss ~ Podcasts

Seeing AI App  ~  Artificial Intelligence

Florey Medal winner sets sights on wet macular degeneration cure

eSight 3 Launches in Australia

Macular Degeneration: A stem cell treatment – video, a fair explanation

New Research: Gene Editing as a Potential Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration

Legally blind ~ The Blind Spot ~ video

A Demonstration of the IrisVision Electronic Glasses

Japanese man is first to receive ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells from another person

How to use a USB microscope for a reading aid ~ video

Winner: GiveVision, Stan Karpenko, London

Patients Lose Sight After Stem Cells Are Injected Into Their Eyes

Macular Disease Foundation Australia – Extract Research Update, December 2016

EYE HOPE  ~ a site for sore eyes ~ curated by Reid Johnson, Seattle, USA

ORCAM – See for yourself

The Stem Cellar

Dry AMD Treatment’s “major achievement”

Basic Stem Cell Terminology

Stem cell cure for blindness tested – BBC News


Osterhout Design Group Teams with NuEyes for Solution to Help Those with Low Vision

Skin-To-Eye Stem Cell Transplant Partially Restores Eyesight Of Woman With Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Japanese scientists have used skin cells to restore a patient’s vision for the first time

‘Miracle’ cells could cure blindness

CRISPR Used to Repair Blindness-causing Genetic Defect in Patient-derived Stem Cells

My macular vision loss strategies ~ 2016

Cautionary comments concerning stem cell therapy and macular degeneration

Stem Cell Trial Aims to Cure Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Restoring vision with stem cells

RXI-109 May Reduce Retinal Scarring

‘Big step forward’ in new treatment for age-related macular degeneration

Restoring vision with stem cells

Stem cells help a local blind man see

Restoring vision with stem cells

Stem cell op could bring back sight for millions: UK breakthrough

A New Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Hope for stem cell therapy in macular degeneration

Faulty Immune Cells May be a Cause of Vision Loss in Wet Macular Degeneration

Are stem cells the future for treating macular degeneration?

Pivotal Clinical Trial Program Design for Stargardt’s Macular Degeneration ~ Ocata Therapeutics

Many Stem Cell Clinical Trials for Macular Degeneration

Blindness cure is in sight

Stem Cells Allow Nearly Blind Patients to See

Successful retina transplant sparks hope

Intra Ocular Lens AMD – Hubble Implant

Stem Cell Trial Yields Surprising Results

Hope for blind as scientists find stem cell reservoir in human eye

First lab grown stem cell implanted to treat macular degeneration

MIT finger device reads to the blind in real time

Summary of Research and Developments, 2013-2014

Stem-Cell Treatment for Blindness Moving Through Patient Testing

Scientists make major breakthrough in Age-Related Macular Degeneration therapy

A Continuing Clinical Trial for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Stem cells transplants restore sight to blind mice

Macular degeneration: Incurable, but progress being made

Nano innovation could mean eye injections are a thing of the past

Eccentric Viewing in Central Vision Field Loss, CFL ~ pdf

Review of the MD evReader by Robert Prikulis ~ pdf

New iPad app for people with sight loss

MD evReader App ~ You Tube

Stem Cell Trial Enrolling Patients

Gene Therapy May Help Against Rare Blinding Disease

Cells programmed back to embryonic state using acid bath may provide way to grow new organs

Blindness Cure Hope: Genetically Modified Virus Restores Sight in Choroideremia Patients

The Day I Got My Sight Back ~ BBC documentary video 2013

Scientists ‘print’ new eye cells

New hope for patients with macular degeneration

Stem Cell Treatment ~ Research Update December 2013, MD Foundation Australia

Macular Disease Foundation Australia

Webvision ~ Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by Gregory S. Hageman

Potential topical treatment for macular degeneration

New Treatment For Dry & Wet Macular Degeneration Shows Great Promise

The London Project to Cure Blindness

Historic Japan Stem Cell Trial Approved

‘Big leap’ towards curing blindness in stem cell study

Glasses could correct eyesight of macular degeneration sufferers

Bioengineered virus will improve gene therapy for blinding eye

Video ~ New lease on sight ~ Israeli start-up gives visually impaired a way to read

Bionic eye prototype unveiled by Victorian scientists and designers, Monash University

Stem-cell treatment restores sight to blind man ~ New Scientist – Health

The bionic eye – how does it work ? ~ Bionic Vision Australia

E-Scoop and Life After Vision Loss for Patients Suffering With Macular Degeneration

E-Scoop and Doctor Writes Guide for Macular Degeneration Eyeglasses

Vision Australia ~ blindness and low vision services

Your links, emails and comments are welcome.

Relevant submitted information will be published on this page.

Help grow an information resource for better treatment outcomes for Macular Degeneration.

Email Robert

with my gratitude to Gillian, Sam and Tee


The regeneration of Macular Degeneration current interim report card ~ 12 best statements influencing better future eyesight outcomes.

What is the current state of play

” About 110,000 Australians have wet Macular Degeneration ” ~ Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Research Update Summary Paper, page 4  ~  December 2012.

My following extracts are a synopsis of latest developments as detailed in the reference links noted on my previous Journal Blog narrative, “Some experiences of a Land Surveyor with Macular Degeneration….” ~  my aim being to provide a layman’s snapshot interpretation of current best practice paradigms out there.  Your additional helpful comments or suggestions would be welcome.


” The treatment is based on retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells that have been grown from embryonic stem cells. A surgeon injects 150 microliters of RPE cells—roughly the amount of liquid in three raindrops—under a patient’s retina, which is temporarily detached for the procedure. RPE cells support the retina’s photoreceptors, which are the cells that detect incoming light and pass the information on to the brain….the company has reported impressive results with one patient, who recovered vision after being deemed legally blind.  “  ~  16 April 2014


” Dr Kang Zhang, chief of ophthalmic genetics at UC San Diego, is studying AMD from several angles. He’s investigating genetic variants associated with the disease to better understand how it develops, along with angiogenesis inhibitors for “wet” AMD.  “People at the end stage of end-stage macular degeneration have scar tissue with a loss of photoreceptor cells, so stem cell therapy is the only hope for them,” Zhang said.  For those patients, Zhang is studying how to regenerate an entire retina.  One approach is to use 3-D “bioprinting” of cells to assemble a retina.  Zhang said he and his colleagues are attempting to re-create the embryonic environment in which retinas naturally grow.  “Because the retina is a three-dimensional structure, we have to use ‘bioprinting’ to lay down scaffolds,” Zhang said.  His team is working with a variety of animal and human cells. ” ~ 12 March 2014


” While choroideremia is a rare disease, affecting about one in every 50,000 people, doctors believe the process used to treat it could be turned toward more common inherited eye disorders, such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa. ” ~ 13 February 2014


” The team used a genetically modified virus and inserted it into the cells in the retina of the eye without causing damage. The first six patients to receive the treatment had all shown improvements to their vision in dim light, with two being able to read more lines on the eye chart. ” ~ 16 January 2014


“….The cells, called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) Cells, will be morphed into retinal cells, then given to six patients with a major cause of blindness: age-related macular degeneration (AMD)….IPS cells are hailed as the perfect compromise cell. They are adult, so uncontroversial; multi-potent like an embryonic cell, so relatively powerful….”  ~  14 August 2013


“…. Damage to the retina causes their sight to become blurry and distorted….Patients use a computer mouse to adjust the Amsler Grid until they can see it perfectly….Using complex algorithms he can produce personalised lenses that compensate for the distortions, and is developing spectacles and contact lenses….We have to eliminate the distortions in macular degeneration with a complex compensation….” ~ 15 August 2013


” ….The eye is one of the most advanced fields for stem cell research….It is relatively simple as the light sensing cells only have to pass their electrical message on to one more cell in order to get their message to the brain….Now the London-based team have shown it is possible to replace the light-sensing cells themselves, raising the prospect of reversing blindness….The study showed that these cells could hook up with the existing architecture of the eye and begin to function….” ~  22 July 2013


“….Building upon 14 years of research, we have now created a virus that you just inject into the liquid vitreous humor inside the eye, and it delivers genes to a very difficult-to-reach population of delicate cells in a way that is surgically non-invasive and safe….the viruses penetrated cells spottily across the retina, but almost completely in the very important fine-vision area called the fovea. Current viruses do not penetrate foveal cells at all….Schaffer predicts that the viruses can be used not only to insert genes that restore function to non-working genes, but can knock out genes or halt processes that are actively killing retina cells, which may be the case in age-related macular degeneration….”  ~  16 June 2013


” An experimental stem-cell treatment has restored the sight of a man blinded by the degeneration of his retinal cells. The man, who is taking part in a trial examining the safety of using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to reverse two common causes of blindness, can now see well enough to be allowed to drive….”  ~  20 May 2013


” The bionic vision system consists of a camera, attached to a pair of glasses, which transmits high-frequency radio signals to a microchip implanted in the retina. Electrodes on the implanted chip convert these signals into electrical impulses to stimulate cells in the retina that connect to the optic nerve. These impulses are then passed down along the optic nerve to the vision processing centres of the brain, where they are interpreted as an image….”  ~  20 January 2013


“….Recently developed new E-Scoop lenses from Holland now enable doctors to help patients with one of the chief complaints associated with macular degeneration – cloudy vision….The lens has four distinct properties that make vision clearer and sharper, with reduced glare….The yellow tint improves contrast, the prism moves the image away from the damaged macular area, the thickness of the lens, combined with its special “base” curve, makes objects appear slightly larger….”  ~  9 September 2012


“….As our understanding of the pathogenesis of AMD continues to improve, so does the prospects for new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Hopefully, we will eventually eradicate AMD and dramatically improve the quality of life in our older generation.” ~ June 2012

Help grow an information resource for better treatment outcomes for Macular Degeneration.

Email Robert

with my gratitude to Gillian, Sam and Tee

Dictated to my wife, Gillian


Land boundary dispute resolution within the NSW Byron Shire. The unmaking of adjoining neighbours’ demarcation myths.

Folktales about plowmen who encroach upon their neighbours’ fields ~ ” Before the permanent allotment of lands, to every peasant, in sowing time, so much of the field or mark was assigned as was just and appropriate, and boundary posts were driven between his and his neighbour’s allotment. Whoever removed such marks, though he might escape punishment in this world, could find no rest in the grave, but by way of penalty must plough every night on the spot where his sin lay hidden.” Dishonest Plowman Legends , D. L. Ashliman

As a NSW Registered Land Surveyor working in the Mullumbimby, Byron Bay and Bangalow localities, I occasionally receive enquiries from distressed property owners concerning, from their perspective, supposed land boundary disputes with their adjoining neighbours. In this article I will attempt to clarify key relevant issues and highlight perceived property owner misconceptions.  Water boundaries are excluded in this review.

Contrasts in the ownership of land experience can vary from ” Bliss “, as shown in the Windows XP, icon “Bliss” cartoon image above ~ to the unwelcome personal confrontation of a perceived land border, demarcation, land boundary dispute ~ being contentions between adjoining property owners, attempting to protect their own interests. Their perceptions are based sometimes on doubtful evidence, which requires factual land survey investigation.

How land boundaries are created in the first instance and associated responsibilities

In the State of NSW, land boundary rules of law are created by the Parliament, administered by the Government and interpreted by the Judiciary. In a worst case scenario, the absolute final arbitrator of the location of a land boundary on the ground is a Court of Law. The NSW Registered Land Surveyor is specially qualified, trained and has authorised competence in dealing with and resolving most land boundary issues.

The boundary limits of land ownership are accurately quantified in the quaintly termed ” title diagram “, as specified in the Certificate of Title (CT) of the individual land parcel.  Currently, this diagram is actually a precisely surveyed and carefully prepared plan of land survey, referred to as a Deposited Plan of Survey ( DP ), and meeting the strict requirements of the Surveying and Spatial Information Act 2002 Surveying and Spatial Information Regulation 2006 – ( 2012 from 1 September ), and the Registrar General’s Directions, NSW Land & Property Information ( LPI ).

Lodged DPs for the creation and subsequent reinstatement of land boundaries, are required to be accompanied by an extensive Checklist meeting statutory requirements, and signed off by the Registered Land Surveyor undertaking the boundary survey.

Delineated land boundaries are shown in the DP with accompanying corner reference marking details and State control surveyed connections for the future purpose of boundary reinstatement, if required.

The Registered Surveyor responsible for the surveyed DP, makes a mandatory legal declaration in the Survey Certificate panel contained within the separate DP Administration Sheet, stating that the survey was carried out in accordance with the statutory regulations.  There is no provision within this Survey Certificate, see above, for boundary survey work to be undertaken ” under supervision “. The NSW Board of Surveying and Spatial Information ( BOSSI ) issues a photograph identification card to Registered Land Surveyors, for the authorisation of entry to land for survey purposes.

In modern land survey practice, the land boundary dispute description statement is usually a misnomer

The established doctrine of indefeasibility applicable to Torrens title land, refers to the State guarantee as to certainty of ownership of land, inclusive of land boundaries. In the case of Limited Title, land boundaries are not guaranteed.

In my view, modern NSW land boundaries can be construed as land boundaries created since the introduction of precision electronic distance measurement for cadastral surveys in the early 1970s.  Additionally, from this period onwards, NSW survey regulations provided for improved  reference marking and survey control connection to selected land boundary corners in the DP.  This improved technology, with better survey monumentation, resulted in the accurate reinstatement of land boundaries, when required.

Simply put, with modern land boundary surveys, there is usually no doubt as to where a title boundary is on the ground.  Depending on local circumstances, more office investigation and field work may be required to reinstate a particular land boundary correctly in its original position, especially where original survey monuments are gone.

Accordingly, the description that ” an issue is a land boundary dispute “, is a misnomer.  With modern boundary surveys, the validity of a correctly reinstated land boundary on the ground, can be considered not to be in contention.  The ground land boundary location generally cannot be disputed, but rather the real issue being, contentions between adjoining neighbours regarding structures and/or vegetation, related to the correctly determined and known ground boundary position.

Separating the fundamental issues of contention and dispute

The ground location for a particular land boundary may not be known by adjoining land owners for a variety of reasons.  Original ground surface statutory survey pegs are gone as a result of construction, utility services, land clearing, agricultural activity, garden creation, invasive vegetation, fence erection, storm and weather impact, and deterioration through age.  Additionally, in my local experience, it is not unknown for statutory survey pegs to be deliberately removed and/or repositioned incorrectly.

The primary and first process to resolve a contentious boundary location, is to have that boundary correctly reinstated and marked on the ground by a Registered Land Surveyor. If necessary, the surveyed identification of adjoining building structures, fences, vegetation and trees, related to that boundary, may also be undertaken.  In this survey task a detailed written report and plan of survey is also supplied by the Registered Land Surveyor, which may be useful in ongoing negotiations.

Once the correct ground boundary is known with certainty, with accompanying supporting documentation, potentially as admissible evidence, then neighbour issues related to that boundary can be addressed.

Further options for consideration for more complex, contentious land boundaries

The Registered Land Surveyor to lodge a formal deposited plan of survey ( DP ), known as a redefinition plan, detailing the boundary reinstatement for the land boundary in contention.  This plan is examined, registered as a DP by the NSW Registrar General and is available in the public domain.  No Local Government certificate is required for this type of lodged survey plan.

As evidenced by a recent Court report concerning a retaining wall feud along a common boundary, litigation fees can escalate to an excessive amount. In order to provide an alternative process to possible expensive legal and court costs, the NSW Registrar General, under Part 14A Real Property Act 1900, may through an application for boundary determination and payment of associated fees, undertake an examination survey to resolve a more complex boundary dispute, particularly in regard to older created land boundaries.

Land owners’ possible misconceptions relevant to a contentious land boundary

To establish with certainty that a corner post or line fencing is correctly located on a land boundary, requires that investigation and a check survey be undertaken by a Registered Land Surveyor. This check survey will confirm whether the relevant land boundary passes through the material of fencing, or not.  In my local experience, it is not unknown for rural perimeter boundary and corner fencing to be erected up to several metres from the correct boundary position, sometimes resulting in adjoining neighbours adopting an incorrect presumption.

Online aerial imagery or aerial mapping supplied by Local Government, showing a cadastral or land boundary overlay, should be treated with caution.  Land boundaries shown in this media are not survey accurate and cannot be relied upon to establish or interpret a land boundary position correctly.  At best, boundary lines shown should be considered as diagrammatic only. There are too many instances, where boundaries shown within the imagery, are wrongly displaced many metres from the real  road and land parcel boundary location, and not correctly related to displayed infrastructure.

In the disclaimer noted below, with respect to mapping, aerial imagery, and associated displayed land boundaries, Byron Shire Council states no warranty is given, that the issued map provided, is free from error or omission.

In common land law, the most weight is given to boundary evidence on the ground.

Impacts on a land boundary, which may lead to neighbour contention

Post resolution of the correct ground boundary location, in my experience the type of issues contested with respect to a common boundary, are not limited to the following -

  • Erected fence lines and retaining walls.
  • Building structures, walls and attachments, and foundation support.
  • Vegetation, trees and branches.
  • Legal access to a land parcel.
  • The proper use of land.
  • The entering of a neighbour’s land without consent, possibly leading to trespass.

Within their land parcel boundaries, the property owner(s) has the right to fully enjoy their own amenity through the use, care, control and management of their property, being in compliance with Local Government land use laws.

Should you have any enquiries concerning land boundary issues related to this article in the Byron, Bangalow and Mullumbimby localities, I offer as an experienced New South Wales Registered Land Surveyor, personal professional service and expert friendly advice, leading to successful client outcomes.


Please visit my website for contact details.

An explanation of the above  land related terminology, may be found in a glossary provided  by the New South Wales Land and Property Information ( NSW LPI ), Registrar General’s Directions.


Vendors sale checklist for Byron Bay rural hinterland property from this NSW Registered Land Surveyor’s perspective.

In the interest of providing a counter balance to my previous Journal Blog posting, which recommended a checklist for a proposed rural land and property purchase, I now offer my notes for a Vendor considering a rural land and property sale, relevant to the Byron Bay, Bangalow and Mullumbimby rural hinterland. My notes are based upon my experience as a Registered Land Surveyor and property owner Vendor in the local Byron Shire property market. My introductory notes are not exhaustive, but rather include, and are not limited to, my following key points, which are not necessarily in order.

  • Review my relevant checklist points in my previous posting, which may also be applicable to a Vendor.
  • In the current local land and property market, the sales process is biased towards Purchasers, with Vendors being urged to “meet the market” to achieve a fast property sale, possibly resulting in serious financial disadvantage to the Vendor. A review of property marketing strategy, both online and in the print media, indicates that there is a continuous pressure on Vendors to reduce property sale prices. If possible, an option for the Vendor is simply to remove the property from sale and wait for a more beneficial market.

They can help you structure an offer that gets you the lowest price, while meeting the objective of making the vendor feel like they’re also getting a good deal. “ ~  Quote, Domain, The Northern Star, 28 April 2012.

  • Distressed and uninformed Vendors may be vulnerable in this current property market.  In order to achieve a reasonable property sale outcome, the Vendors’ objective should be to be fully aware of property market impacts, from several reliable independent information sources.
  • Hinterland Vendors should be intrinsically aware of the true value and real potential of their real estate.  Where a Vendor unknowingly puts a bargain property on the market, they may be burdened with an unnecessary financial loss, post property sale.

  • Be mindful of the property exploiter occasionally loitering in the market place.  Post land and property securement, having bought low with the calculated  future intention of attempting to sell high, in this instance, the mantra of ” meeting the market ” does not seem to apply. Lawful, but of no benefit to the original Vendor, who sold the property.
  • The property sale process may be managed by a NSW Licensed Real Estate Agent ( Agent ) acting upon the Vendor’s instructions, or alternatively, the Vendor may lawfully pursue the sale process privately.  If using an Agent, the Vendor should endeavour to be in control of the minimum listing period,  listing type and terms, the negotiation of the the Agent’s commission and costs, editorial approval of all marketing  advertising, and importantly, determine their asking sale price for their property.  By law the Agent is required to nominate their estimate of the property sale price in the listing contract document.  It is permissible  that the Vendor’s nominated asking price in the listing contract may differ substantially from the Agent’s estimate of sale price. In a fair and reasonable property sale transaction, it is a willing seller, willing buyer sale process – neither being under any compulsion to sell or buy.  ~  However, reality may differ from the theory.
  • The Vendor’s asking sale price should not be limited only to referencing similar past property sales, which may have been sold because of an owner’s personal or financial pressure. But additionally, be based upon existing similar properties currently not on the market.  Astute Vendors should also familiarise themselves with more recent past property sales and observe the subsequent sale asking price and time period passed, when a new owner puts the same property back on the market.
  • Achieved, well below the market, recent property sales, forced by financial distress or failed property speculation, should not be considered as legitimate reference bench marks for future property sale pricing.
  • The Vendor  should not permit a minor rectifiable property defect to be translated into a disproportionate property sale price reduction.
  • The Vendor has the right to know all relevant details of prospective Purchasers undertaking enquiries and onsite inspections of their property.  It is noted that when agents market their own properties, it is required by law that the agent must declare their interest to prospective Purchasers.  Accordingly in my view, the Vendor conducting a private sale, also has the right to enquire if the prospective Purchaser is an agent seeking to buy the property, or a non-agent individual acting on behalf of a client. ie. middle person.
  • An onsite property inspection disappoints when property marketing photographs and accompanying statements do not match the reality on the ground. Truth in property promotion advertising is more likely to lead to a successful sale result.
  • Unacceptable initial low ball offers are made by Purchasers to test the mettle of Vendors and observe their reactions.  Vendors should simply maintain composure and re-affirm their property pricing position.

As a Vendor, your rightful endeavour is to protect your interests in your property sale transaction.

Should you have any enquiries concerning land boundary matters related to your proposed property sale in the Byron, Bangalow and Mullumbimby rural hinterland, I offer as an experienced New South Wales Registered Land Surveyor, personal professional service and expert friendly advice, leading to successful client outcomes.


Please visit my website for contact details.

An explanation of the above  land related terminology, may be found in a glossary provided  by the New South Wales Land and Property Information ( NSW LPI ), Registrar General’s Directions.


Pre-Purchase checklist for Byron Bay rural hinterland property from this NSW Registered Land Surveyor’s perspective.

My comments apply to land survey practice law in the State of New South Wales. My Land Surveyor’s perspective checklist is a good starting place for your pre-purchase property investigation. It is based on my local experience as a practising Land Surveyor in the Byron Bay, Bangalow and Mullumbimby rural hinterland. This introductory checklist is not exhaustive, but rather includes, and is not limited to, my following key points, which are not necessarily in order.

  • Closely examine the computer folio of the Certificate of Title ( CT ) of the subject property. Understand the meaning and impact of any notations described in the second schedule of the Certificate.  If relevant, understand the impact of a Limited Title.
  • Appurtenant to the aforesaid point, determine the land tenure or land status of the parcel of land being considered for purchase.  Understand whether the property is a straight-out, unencumbered freehold land parcel, or a purchase of an interest of a Multiple Occupancy ( MO ) arrangement, or a rural Community Title lot, which is subject to a management statement/plan, as detailed on the notations of the Certificate of Title ( CT ).  The impacts of this management statement should be clearly understood.
  • View the Deposited Plan of Survey ( DP ) of the subject land parcel.  Identify the subject lot land boundaries within the DP.  Establish whether the subject lot in the DP is a full land survey or a compiled plan.  A statement in the first schedule of the CT,  ” formerly known as Portion – “, indicates a Crown Plan ( CP ) with an associated CP number.
  • Determine the last sale price and date, for the subject land, from the transfer dealing number, as shown in the first schedule of the Certificate of Title.
  • Compare the subject property asking price to the current replacement cost of all existing building and utility servicing structures, together with landscaping, separated from the land price only component.
  • Sight the location of any existing easements within the subject land in the DP.  Correlate any easements, with notations in the second schedule, of the Certificate of Title.  Understand the impact of  any restriction(s) on the use of land.
  • Google the property street address to view aerial imagery.  Inspect the property on the ground.
  • Know the property land use zoning and the associated full implications of that zoning ( see LEP ).  Assess the relevance of Council’s Development Control Plan ( DCP ), if any, to the subject property. Until the new draft Byron LEP is implemented, the Byron LEP 1988 is the current legal planning instrument.
  • Check that a Development Application ( DA ) to Council, if any, over the subject property, has been formerly refused, or is in the current process of being determined.  Is the property subject to the fulfillment of DA consent conditions to Council, or under any Council orders.
  • Establish the existence and location of any un-constructed Crown Roads within the subject land, and which are not part of the subject lot.
  • Ascertain that existing property perimeter rural fencing is correctly erected on lot land boundaries.
  • Check that the subject lot, if vacant, has a building entitlement.
  • Establish which parts of the subject property, if any, are flood or landslip prone.
  • Identify if the property location and access is bushfire prone and subject to bushfire hazard risk management impacts.
  • Confirm that existing building structures are within the subject land and do not encroach upon adjoining lands, roads or easements.
  • Ascertain that there are no encroachments upon the subject property by buildings on adjoining lands, or constructed roads.
  • Are existing building structures lawful and approved by the Local Government Authority.
  • Establish with certainty, that a proposed building site stands within the subject vacant lot, and without any Crown Roads.
  • If applicable, confirm that existing buildings are contained within a designated building envelope within the subject lot.  If vacant land, ascertain on the ground, the location of the building envelope.
  • Know the direction of true north, within the subject land parcel, on the ground.
  • Clarify the availability and installation costs of utility services, if required.  Confirm the quality of mobile phone and digital TV reception, and high speed broadband internet connection.
  • On a rural property purchase it is conditional on the new owner to obtain from Council an Approval to operate an on-site sewage management system for the existing septic.  A prudent purchaser should obtain a plumber’s report prior to commitment.
  • Obtain an Identification Survey and/or have relevant land boundaries surveyed and marked on the ground.
  • Does the subject property have legal access.  Are existing access driveways physically located within the property lot, road reserve, or within a designated right of carriageway envelope.

If a prospective purchaser is not permitted or obstructed in pursuing any line of enquiry, concerning the property details, to their satisfaction, then this may indicate potential problems post property purchase.  Accordingly, one should be fully aware of the possible impact consequences of not obtaining clarity prior to property securement.

Further supporting information may be found in my Journal Blog article titled  ~  Caveat Emptor and your piece of Australia and associated PDF, Lines in Space.

In the interest of providing a counter balance, see my Journal posting Vendors sale checklist for Byron Bay rural hinterland property.

Should you have any enquiries concerning land boundary investigation in the Byron, Bangalow and Mullumbimby rural hinterland, I offer as an experienced New South Wales Registered Land Surveyor, personal professional service and expert friendly advice, leading to successful client outcomes.


Please visit my website for contact details.

An explanation of the above  land related terminology, may be found in a glossary provided  by the New South Wales Land and Property Information ( NSW LPI ), Registrar General’s Directions.