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Dumb laws on tree removal

By Affirmative Action Man - 23 June 2015 31

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In Canberra it can be very difficult to remove a tree on your own property. I have had many friends who have large dangerous eucalypts on their property which they have wanted to remove but have been refused permission to do so.

This is a ridiculous (nanny) state of affairs. If it is on your block you should pretty much be able to do anything you want with the trees. Do we expect people to get a permit to change the type of grass or lawn they have or the type of rose bushes ? No we don’t – trees should be treated the same way.

The tree police seem to think that if we let common sense prevail on trees then every Canberran will rush out and chop down every tree on their property. The reality is that some trees will be cut down and others planted.

The irony is that you can be stopped from cutting down a large dangerous tree but your neighbour can plant a fast growing tree that will block your view and rob you of sunlight and you can’t do anything about it.

The first political party to allow people to manage trees on their own property gets my vote.

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
Dumb laws on tree removal
HiddenDragon 5:42 pm 23 Jun 15

The original ACT Tree Protection legislation was passed following a well-publicised case of the removal of a tree in the inner south, which apparently displeased some well-connected people. The then Labor opposition criticised the legislation for being overly restrictive but, of course, tooks steps to make the legislation more restrictive after it came to government. Along with strict liability offences, and heavy-handedness which might be more appropriate to matters of national security, the legislation is a serious over-reaction to a non-existent problem.

There was no crisis of widespread tree felling in the years prior to the original legislation being passed (although there was some very interestingly timed activity just before it came in…), and for every tree which has been protected – against the wishes of those living with it – one has to wonder how many more have been removed pre-emptively before they grow to a size which attracts protection, or have not been planted at all.

In support of the tree protection legislation, there are all sorts of nice, general, feel-good arguments about the “urban forest” etc. etc., which tend to blithely overlook the considerable cost, inconvenience and, for some, danger, presented by large trees on suburban blocks. If the benefits to the broader community are as great as claimed, perhaps homeowners who are forced to live with large protected trees could be allowed a worthwhile (several hundred dollars a year would be a starting point) rebate on their rates – which could be used to meet costs such as much more frequent drain and roof clearances. Better yet, as Affirmative Action Man suggests, let homeowners take responsibility for this.

rosscoact 4:27 pm 23 Jun 15

vintage123 said :

rosscoact said :

I remember a neighbour removed a 4 metre high tree on a footpath ie a street tree because he didn’t like it.

Parked a trailer next to it. Cut it down with a chainsaw. Used a stump grinder to take it below surface level and filled that back with topsoil. Took the remnants away with a trailer. Very impressive.

TAMS came along a week or two later, had a look, scratched their heads and drove away. Nothing more was said.

I like trees and wouldn’t cut one down without good reason but if I had a good reason I certainly would not be seeking any permission to do so.

A $200,000 fine, it would have to be a seriously good reason.

There is little to no chance of getting fined $500 let alone $200,000 if history has any relevance. What is the highest any householder has been fined ever? Less than the cost of removal I would expect.

tim_c 4:27 pm 23 Jun 15

It’s ironic when you look at photos of Canberra before it was developed – mostly just grassland. Now that the city is built and people have planted trees, you’re not allowed to remove them.

My brother applied for permission to remove a large eucalypt that was in the powerlines – permission was declined unless he planted SEVERAL trees to replace the ONE he wanted to remove. He then pointed out that the block was already so full of trees and large shrubs that there wouldn’t be enough space to plant the required replacements. Approval was then granted.

I wonder where the liability lies if you apply for removal of a tree that may be dangerous, the ACT Council declines permission, and then the tree (or part of it) falls down and causes damage and/or injury…

Maya123 1:45 pm 23 Jun 15

I think trees are great, as long as the correct tree is chosen for the spot, and it doesn’t shade your neighbours’ northern aspect. That’s selfish, and made worse if the tree is not deciduous.
I have planted eleven trees on my block, plus other bushes and vines, but none of them are large, or will shade the neighbours. Most are deciduous. I have planted a lot of native plants, and will continue to plant them, but none are big trees.

churl 1:33 pm 23 Jun 15

The rules mostly apply to trees either:
•12 metres or more in height; or
•1.5 metres or more in circumference at 1 metre above ground level [so diameter about 0.5 m or more]; or
•with two or more trunks and the total circumference of all the trunks, 1 metre above ground level, is 1.5 m or more, or
•12 metres or more in crown width.
http://www.tams.act.gov.au/parks-recreation/trees_and_forests/information_about_tree_protection_on_leased_land

vintage123 12:17 pm 23 Jun 15

rosscoact said :

I remember a neighbour removed a 4 metre high tree on a footpath ie a street tree because he didn’t like it.

Parked a trailer next to it. Cut it down with a chainsaw. Used a stump grinder to take it below surface level and filled that back with topsoil. Took the remnants away with a trailer. Very impressive.

TAMS came along a week or two later, had a look, scratched their heads and drove away. Nothing more was said.

I like trees and wouldn’t cut one down without good reason but if I had a good reason I certainly would not be seeking any permission to do so.

A $200,000 fine, it would have to be a seriously good reason.

dungfungus 12:11 pm 23 Jun 15

Rollersk8r said :

Alexandra Craig said :

Rollersk8r said :

We now have one very large gum remaining – and I hate it. Drops huge amounts of litter, kills the lawn, can’t plant anything else near it, drops sticky oil all over the cars. But not allowed to get rid of it! We’re now designing extensions around the tree – which will most definitely be removed at some stage, when it’s finally deemed to be a danger to the house, or starts blocking pipes etc.

What if the tree is dead? Are you allowed to remove it then?

Well the correct process is to get someone to come around and confirm it’s dead, then give you permission to remove.

Dead parrot syndrome?

rosscoact 11:59 am 23 Jun 15

I remember a neighbour removed a 4 metre high tree on a footpath ie a street tree because he didn’t like it.

Parked a trailer next to it. Cut it down with a chainsaw. Used a stump grinder to take it below surface level and filled that back with topsoil. Took the remnants away with a trailer. Very impressive.

TAMS came along a week or two later, had a look, scratched their heads and drove away. Nothing more was said.

I like trees and wouldn’t cut one down without good reason but if I had a good reason I certainly would not be seeking any permission to do so.

vintage123 11:48 am 23 Jun 15

I think TAMS tree protection unit do a great job. The tree preservation act is a solid policy.

Rollersk8r 11:39 am 23 Jun 15

Alexandra Craig said :

Rollersk8r said :

We now have one very large gum remaining – and I hate it. Drops huge amounts of litter, kills the lawn, can’t plant anything else near it, drops sticky oil all over the cars. But not allowed to get rid of it! We’re now designing extensions around the tree – which will most definitely be removed at some stage, when it’s finally deemed to be a danger to the house, or starts blocking pipes etc.

What if the tree is dead? Are you allowed to remove it then?

Well the correct process is to get someone to come around and confirm it’s dead, then give you permission to remove.

Holden Caulfield 11:34 am 23 Jun 15

It’s been a while since I dealt with this issue and I’ve since moved, but it was a very simple process to remove and unwanted large and prominent pine from my block in the inner north, back in 2004 it would have been.

I was helped by the fact the trunk was rotten, confirmed by a tree surgeon who happily removed the tree.

It seems like there’s a few readers who won’t be happy to learn the pine was replaced it with a eucalypt. At least I chose a local species that grows to about 5-7m. It’s a great looking tree and still looks great a couple of years after selling.

There was also an old plum tree in the backyard fall over during a storm, so that removal process was pretty easy too!

I seem to be in a minority in that I really like eucalypts and thankfully these days there’s plenty of options around that are more suitable for suburban applications than the monsters that were often planted back in the 70s.

Alexandra Craig 10:59 am 23 Jun 15

Rollersk8r said :

We now have one very large gum remaining – and I hate it. Drops huge amounts of litter, kills the lawn, can’t plant anything else near it, drops sticky oil all over the cars. But not allowed to get rid of it! We’re now designing extensions around the tree – which will most definitely be removed at some stage, when it’s finally deemed to be a danger to the house, or starts blocking pipes etc.

What if the tree is dead? Are you allowed to remove it then?

devils_advocate 10:37 am 23 Jun 15

Tymefor said :

In 2013 there was a total of 1 fine issued for $250 according to this article. Food for thought, not everyone bothers with the process.

“Last year, TAMS received 2115 applications to remove, prune or lop trees, most were for tree removal and about half were granted”

So only 1000 trees were removed in the ACT hmmmm.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/government-struggles-to-stop-people-killing-protected-trees-20140520-zrilh.html

Yep. Unless there was a recent tree survey done on your block, (which you would know about because you pay $4k + for a full site survey, and only if you want to subdivide or build) nobody can prove anything. I heard there were some rumours about google maps being used but sounds unlikely that some bureaucrat would go to such lengths to identify missing trees. As long as the stump is promptly dug out of the ground and disposed of I don’t see the issue.

Tymefor 10:23 am 23 Jun 15

In 2013 there was a total of 1 fine issued for $250 according to this article. Food for thought, not everyone bothers with the process.

“Last year, TAMS received 2115 applications to remove, prune or lop trees, most were for tree removal and about half were granted”

So only 1000 trees were removed in the ACT hmmmm.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/government-struggles-to-stop-people-killing-protected-trees-20140520-zrilh.html

Rollersk8r 9:23 am 23 Jun 15

I generally agree! I’ve gone through the approval process and paid thousands to have most of the gums at my place removed – and I wasn’t responsible for planting any of them. Even the ones on the nature strip had to be removed at my expense.

We now have one very large gum remaining – and I hate it. Drops huge amounts of litter, kills the lawn, can’t plant anything else near it, drops sticky oil all over the cars. But not allowed to get rid of it! We’re now designing extensions around the tree – which will most definitely be removed at some stage, when it’s finally deemed to be a danger to the house, or starts blocking pipes etc.

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