We are all aware of trees being chopped down and poisoned in order to facilitate development (subdivision) or views. The grind of chain saws and mulching machines can be heard every week. How do we know if the tree removal is legal? Ku-ring-gai Council has a tree preservation order but only occasionally is there publicity about this regulation being breached and a paltry fine being issued.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 April, Ku-ring-gai’s tree canopy cover declined by 2.4% over the 7 years 2013 to 2020. By contrast the draft Urban Forest Strategy aims to increase cover in residential areas from 35.6 to 40% over the next 10 years. Much of the reduction has come from building new houses that occupy most of the block and leave no room for trees. The complying development code that is controlled by the state government overrides many of the council provisions aimed at keeping tree canopy. This should be an issue at the state election next March.
At the last meeting council passed a resolution that we hope will help make a difference. The aim is:
…to enhance current measures for pursuing investigations and preventing illegal tree/vegetation removal through community education.
The decisions made are:
- to write to the Minister for Planning and Environment to lobby for an increase in penalties
- to mandate the display of tree application permits at the front of the subject property whilst works are being undertaken
- to increase community education regarding illegal tree work, council’s online approval portal and the significance of the visibility of tree application permits
- to increase contractor education regarding council’s Tree and Vegetation Preservation Development Control Plan
- to continue to seek legal advice to issue penalty infringement notices for multiple tree breaches on one site