Councils defend street tree policies

The West Australian Local Government Association and Tree Care WA have hit back at claims local council street tree policies are unreasonable.

The response comes after homeowners complained the policies were illogical.

City of Joondalup resident Emily Freimond said the council held too much power over residents to the point where it became impractical.

Miss Freimond said it was unfair her household was responsible for watering and fertilising the trees on their front verge, yet she was unable to trim or prune them without approval.

According to the City of Joondalup tree management guidelines, verge trees will not be removed or pruned by the council in order to enhance views, for allergy or health problems or to clear shade from solar panels.

“It’s come to the point where it is unreasonable,” Miss Feimond said.

“If we installed solar panels and one tree branch was shading them, we wouldn’t be allowed to trim it back a little?

“Surely the guidelines could be updated to reward residents making an effort to move towards environmentally friendlier options.”

It is an offence under Part 8.1 of the Local Government and Public Property Local Law 2014 to damage, injure, prune, remove or kill a tree on a thoroughfare or verge without authority from the local government or a written law.

Tree Care WA operations manager James Jordan said these rules were in place for a reason.

“It is quite often the case that trees will be incorrectly pruned or removed because a resident wishes to modify the tree or landscape for their own gain rather than thinking about the bigger picture of what these trees offer us as humans,” he said.

Mr Jordan said the policies in place at the moment were only going to get stricter.

“In comparison to other cities within Australia our policies are very much relaxed, in Sydney and Melbourne for example you are not allowed to remove a large tree within your own property without Council permission and some local shires in Perth are just starting to implement this ruling also,” he said.

WALGA president Lynne Craigie said in order to provide good governance councils must account for the views of the majority, while considering the needs of a few.

“To claim council policies are not ‘practical’ may reflect one small portion of the community without considering the needs of another,” she said.

Ms Craigie said there were lots of ways to interact with local councils to discuss issues like this to try and work out a middle ground.

“Whether it be through attending council meetings, participating in strategic planning sessions, public access to information, or participating in council established committees – to name but a few,” she said.

Categories: General, Politics