17 July 2015 Update on previous post: Reaction To Mayor’s Controversial Tree Cull Proposal
Nigel, TRRA Planning
Council’s proposed changes to its tree removal policy are on public exhibition, until 30 July.
They take the form of a draft amendment to the new Development Control Plan (DCP) DCP Chapter On Tree Management (PDF 472.49 KB) revising the section on Tree Management. While not as extreme as the Mayor originally proposed, the changes, which will be ‘temporary’ for 12 months, are still significant. Property owners in urban areas* will be able to remove trees on their land within 10 metres of an ‘approved structure’ without prior approval if they are judged to ‘pose a direct threat to human life or property’. The current policy only allows removal of trees within 5 metres or ‘urgent removal on account of immediate failure’.
The amendments do at least also clarify that other legislation may prevent removal of trees of particular species or which would impact on fauna habitat, although this cautionary message may get lost if the Mayor and Councillors continue to misrepresent the effect of the change.
There is a concern in the community that the revised policy may lead to removal over the next year of many mature trees which are not dangerous, for other reasons such as view enhancement or commercial gain.
All the documents on Exhibition on the PSC website until 30 July 2015 are available HERE
We encourage you to have your say, by making a submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org before 30 July.
Key points you may wish to include are:
- Proposed changes are unnecessary – the policy already allows for removal of dangerous trees, if necessary without prior approval.
- No evidence has been provided of any problem or unmet demand.
- Changes run the risk of ‘abuse’ by those who want to remove trees for other reasons, and of unsafe ‘do-it-yourself’ clearance.
- If changes go through, must be better safeguards against abuse and unsafe practices.
*Note that tree removal on the vast majority of land in Port Stephens is not covered by this policy but is instead subject to the Native Vegetation Act. Rural landowners need to ensure they comply with controls under that legislation.
Previous posts on this issue: