Expert Witnessing

Eldon Bottcher is on the panel of expert witnesses of a number of legal firms.

Expertise in providing expert opinion to the court is evidenced in the Judgement handed down by His Honour Alan Wilson SC DCJ on the 6th February 2008 in the matter between Andrews and Hansen Pty Ltd v Gold Coast City Council QPEC , File No BD 624 of 2005.

In his summing up, His Honour made the following comments.

“(27) The question of management of bushfire risks involved two principal aspects ; actual, practical management; and , the weight to be given to the recommendations concerning its form and construction. The same conclusions arose in respect of an alternative access link No 1 and the Constraints Code under the 2003 planning scheme. The former involves the suitability of fire trails and alternative access links, and the general layout of the development.

(28) The application embraces extensive fire protection measures. The evidence of the expert called by the appellant, Mr Bottcher, was persuasive that what is proposed is both satisfactory and appropriate. He has extensive practical experience in this area, including experience in fighting bushfires. Particular criticisms of Fire Trail 2 advanced by the Councils expert seemed to me to evaporate in the face of Mr Bottcher’s evidence about it, and his sensible recommendations concerning its form and construction.The same conclusions arose in respect of an alternative access link N0 1, and indeed, the general layout of these trails and links.

(29) Nor was I persuaded that there is an actual conflict with the Bushfire Code under the 2003 scheme. The announced purpose of the code is to ensure appropriate fire mitigation measures are adopted to protect life and proiperty from bushfires, and appropriate access arrangements for fire fighting vehicles.The appellants Bushfire Management Plan provides , I am satisfied, acceptable answers to the PC’s and purposes of the Code, although it does not conform to every AS. As Rackemann DCJ recently observed, however, it is not legitimate to regard departure from the AS advanced in planning scheme codes as necessarily indicating non compliance.

(32) there was a particular focus in Council’s case upon AS 12.3 , which contained an illustration purporting to show an unacceptable design for fire trails and fire breaks. The weight of evidence is persuasive, however, that the proposal does in truth provide adequate breaks between development in a way which would not obstruct fire fighters or other emergency personnel. The overall design also shows a ring road system with a fire break and access for fire fighters. On any view the AS has been, at least, substantially met; certainly , the proposal essentially satisfies the elements of the PC to which the AS relates.”

Eldon in 2020 partook in the Expert Witness Workshop organised by Queensland Environment Law Association.


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