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Protected Tree removal – is it possible ?

PeterJe 8 September 2012 63

Due to changing family requirements I need to extend the family home, the only direction that I can go is in the path of a protected tree.

Moving isn’t really an option as I couldn’t afford to purchase back into the suburb and I am not about to move the kids away from their school or friends.

I have lodged a Tree Damaging activity form, but development is not one of the grounds for removal of a tree. I  tried negotiating, by agreeing to plant more trees elsewhere on the block but I have been advised that there is no leeway with the legislation. They have advised that the only path that I have is to lodge a development application.

I have had several meetings with ACTPLA but they seem to speak a different language. There doesn’t appear to be a clearly defined criteria on what you need to meet in order to get permission to remove a protected tree on development grounds.

The builders I have spoken to are also perplexed with how to successfully go about the process.

Could someone please give me some pointers on how you successfully get a protected tree removed on development grounds.

Is anyone aware of anyone that can I engage to act in the role of an advocate to assist me through this process?


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63 Responses to Protected Tree removal – is it possible ?
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Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:14 pm 05 Feb 13

Haha forgot about this thread. Masquara, haha the tree you supposedly had on government watch is now supposedly gone without approval. I heard from a actpla person on passing that it was cut down illegally but no charges or even investigating will be done.

Chop71 Chop71 4:32 pm 05 Feb 13

We had a large branch go through 8 tiles on our roof last week and another almost go through the front window and TAMS still rejected removal of the tree.

F@#$ me, what do they expect us to do? Hide in our tree bunker in high winds?
Did we learn nothing from the fires 10 years ago?

Sarni Sarni 10:13 am 03 Oct 12

Write a letter to the Minister asking him to amend the criteria for approval determined under section 21 of the Tree Protection Act to include reasonable development approvals for family homes. In your letter mention that the right to housing is clearly supported by international law, indeed at the very foundation of the international human rights system in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, establishes an internationally recognised set of standards for all persons without qualification. Article 25 of the Declaration provides, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including …. housing” . Also mention in your letter Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Australia is a party. This recognises the right of all people to adequate housing and commits state parties to take appropriate steps to ensure the realisation of that right. Article 11 recognises, “…. the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing…” and that “States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right” . If the Minister refuses apply for a statement of reasons. Then publish the statement of reasons on this site and elsewhere. Then complain to the Human Rights Commission. You can do this work yourself. But trying ringing a few of the big law firms in Canberra and ask them whether they are prepared to do this work for you pro bono publico. As it is arguably a human rights matter they may be prepared to help you. Sorry I didnt see this post earlier

Henry82 Henry82 4:49 pm 12 Sep 12

how big is it? Would your neighbours care if it’s gone?

There is a reason why bunnings sells chainsaws. You could probably rent a stump grinder for a day, and have the entire thing removed over a weekend.

rosscoact rosscoact 3:20 pm 12 Sep 12

Conan of Cooma said :

I had a similar issue – Wanted a tree out the front gone, council said no (no real reason given). I was advised I was allowed to trim the tree as much as I wanted, but I wasn’t permitted to fell it. I trimmed the holy bat f*** shit out of it. I left it a 20 foot stick. Neighbours complained to council who in turn asked me to remove the eyesore.

Might work in the ACT, it sure worked a treat in NSW!

When I lived in Cooma my next door neighbour got on the turps one weekend while we were away and cut down a 800dia trunked tree in our backyard. Didn’t kill himself or his mate, took it away and everything.

That was the last we heard about it. They are a bit more relaxed in the country

Chop71 Chop71 3:07 pm 12 Sep 12

or it could get struck by lightening

Conan of Cooma Conan of Cooma 2:29 pm 12 Sep 12

I had a similar issue – Wanted a tree out the front gone, council said no (no real reason given). I was advised I was allowed to trim the tree as much as I wanted, but I wasn’t permitted to fell it. I trimmed the holy bat f*** shit out of it. I left it a 20 foot stick. Neighbours complained to council who in turn asked me to remove the eyesore.

Might work in the ACT, it sure worked a treat in NSW!

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 9:57 am 11 Sep 12

breda said :

About 30 years ago, a friend purchased a property which had a cute little gum tree (a peppermint gum, as it turned out) in the front yard. It looked pretty innocuous.

20 years later, it was three times the height of the house, dropped branches at unpredictable intervals, and the roots were getting into the foundations. Hardly anything would grow in the front yard. Every time there was a high wind, she was worried. But, thanks to the Kommissars running the ACT government’s tree protection area, she was not allowed to spend thousands of dollars of her own money to remove it.

She left town, and sold the house. God help the purchasers. If one of the big branches came down in a storm, the house could be severely damaged, and the inhabitants put at serious risk. But, hey, trees are people too, right?

I remember a case at the coast I think where a man was killed by the tree he’d been battling with the council over for years.

kakosi said :

A mentally unstable neighbour got a very large old tree removed by complaining it was cracking the walls of his house. Of course he also thinks fences around his house “cage him in”, but that didn’t stop him getting permission to remove that tree and then going on to remove every single smaller tree, bush and living thing on the property – including poisoning the grass.

So perhaps acting mentally unstable is the answer to your dilemma?

Confirms my theory about how things can have a way of suddenly becoming more flexible or negotiable.

rosscoact rosscoact 4:31 am 11 Sep 12

rezenebe said :

Work out what the reduced useable land area of your block is and reduce your Rates payment on a pro-rata basis for all future years. As a leasehold land occupier, the ACT Government is not permitting you to make use of all the leased land you are paying for.

If the block is a new-ish (say 10 years or less) one this has already been done and will be on the lease. If it is not on the lease that is fair enough and the OP should check the neighbours rates notices to see if there is a reduction.

However, having land on which you can build is not the only criteria on which values are worked out. Some people may prefer to have a huge tree on their block. Not me, but that’s why I didn’t buy a house with a huge tree on the block.

kakosi kakosi 1:15 am 11 Sep 12

A mentally unstable neighbour got a very large old tree removed by complaining it was cracking the walls of his house. Of course he also thinks fences around his house “cage him in”, but that didn’t stop him getting permission to remove that tree and then going on to remove every single smaller tree, bush and living thing on the property – including poisoning the grass.

So perhaps acting mentally unstable is the answer to your dilemma?

breda breda 10:39 pm 10 Sep 12

About 30 years ago, a friend purchased a property which had a cute little gum tree (a peppermint gum, as it turned out) in the front yard. It looked pretty innocuous.

20 years later, it was three times the height of the house, dropped branches at unpredictable intervals, and the roots were getting into the foundations. Hardly anything would grow in the front yard. Every time there was a high wind, she was worried. But, thanks to the Kommissars running the ACT government’s tree protection area, she was not allowed to spend thousands of dollars of her own money to remove it.

She left town, and sold the house. God help the purchasers. If one of the big branches came down in a storm, the house could be severely damaged, and the inhabitants put at serious risk. But, hey, trees are people too, right?

rezenebe rezenebe 9:24 pm 10 Sep 12

Work out what the reduced useable land area of your block is and reduce your Rates payment on a pro-rata basis for all future years. As a leasehold land occupier, the ACT Government is not permitting you to make use of all the leased land you are paying for.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:10 pm 10 Sep 12

Can everyone who is against the cutting down of this tree post photos of all the native monster trees they have planted in their back yard?

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 6:19 pm 10 Sep 12

caf said :

breda said :

It is lunacy to have a policy whereby people can plant whatever they like, wherever they like and then subsequent residents find it difficult or impossible to do anything about it.

You say this like “subsequent residents” just have the property fall into their lap one day.

In reality of course, the subsequent residents have purchased the property, and in so doing have had ample opportunity to investigate what trees are on the block. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it – which means that the original planters of the allegedly unsuitable trees are the ones that have to wear the problem.

breda said :

And, why should the OP effectively have his block size reduced just because some previous resident planted an unsuitable tree in the wrong place?

Because the OP knew about it when they purchased the block?

Because all buyers have the knowledge to recognise the plants in the garden and anticipate their future size, and they have their plans for the future and their housing needs all figured out exactly in advance, and they have the luxury of rejecting any house that isn’t perfect because there are so many other great and affordable properties to choose from which meet all the other criteria they have. I’m not sure I see that happening.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 5:24 pm 10 Sep 12

rhino said :

Skidbladnir said :

I want more information on this one. how large a tree are we talking, how wide is the tree at ground level, can you provide photos and a Google maps/NearMap/ACTMapI link?

It’s a trap.

There’s an (awful) private messaging feature of the WordPress system this site is hosted on.
Try it out sometime.

Personally, we successfully had a protected tree removed with approval from Environment ACT a few years ago, after having to self-educate about their regulations a while back, in order to have a reasonable discussion with ACTPLA over the course of several hours. Some of their staff are just c***s, some are actually very reasonable if you know what you need from them.

caf caf 4:04 pm 10 Sep 12

breda said :

It is lunacy to have a policy whereby people can plant whatever they like, wherever they like and then subsequent residents find it difficult or impossible to do anything about it.

You say this like “subsequent residents” just have the property fall into their lap one day.

In reality of course, the subsequent residents have purchased the property, and in so doing have had ample opportunity to investigate what trees are on the block. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it – which means that the original planters of the allegedly unsuitable trees are the ones that have to wear the problem.

breda said :

And, why should the OP effectively have his block size reduced just because some previous resident planted an unsuitable tree in the wrong place?

Because the OP knew about it when they purchased the block?

rhino rhino 3:07 pm 10 Sep 12

Skidbladnir said :

I want more information on this one. how large a tree are we talking, how wide is the tree at ground level, can you provide photos and a Google maps/NearMap/ACTMapI link?

It’s a trap.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 3:06 pm 10 Sep 12

Skidbladnir said :

I want more information on this one.
On what grounds was it protected, can you provide copies of correspondence with ACTPLA thus far, where is it on the block and in relation to other entities both on the block, how large a tree are we talking, how wide is the tree at ground level, can you provide photos and a Google maps/NearMap/ACTMapI link?

just ask masquara, she already ninjad this information.

OP DO NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR LOCATION

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 2:55 pm 10 Sep 12

I want more information on this one.
On what grounds was it protected, can you provide copies of correspondence with ACTPLA thus far, where is it on the block and in relation to other entities both on the block, how large a tree are we talking, how wide is the tree at ground level, can you provide photos and a Google maps/NearMap/ACTMapI link?

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 2:54 pm 10 Sep 12

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd said :

GardeningGirl said :

astrojax said :

is it just me or have all the comments for everyone else gone all italicised? why?

Yes, I see it too.

The human rights argument in the earlier post makes sense to me, but is going to court to argue human rights really needed just to get some common sense happening?
Another thing I was wondering, not sure if it’s been mentioned, is the tree interfering with solar access at all? Either yours or a neighbours or the proposed extension?

also apparantly devolping a allergy to a tree will allow it to be cut down.

That’s good to know. One of our neighbours has planted a tree right beside the fence that ticks every box for too big for suburban blocks, invasive roots, dropping branches, allergies. I saw tubers being sold at Bunnings as “good fast-growing hedge” or something like that. Hedge? It’s a tree, in time a huge one! I do think nurseries have a role to play in informing people better about what they’re buying if they don’t bother to do any research and just accept the labels at face value. Even with research we’ve all made mistakes, something hasn’t grown well or has grown much better than expected. We should be allowed to correct those mistakes, or to make changes due to changing circumstances.

To clarify what I said about solar access and the proposed extension, I mean would the extension as proposed improve the house’s energy rating, or if you had to build a compromise extension to go around the tree would that have a negative effect on the energy rating, that sort of thing?

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