Inner West Council adopts new and ambitious Tree Policy

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Inner west Council last night adopted a new and ambitious tree canopy policy which includes the doubling of the tree planting budget and the establishment of a dial-a-tree service for residents, to be considered in the 2020/21 Budget.

The greatly increased commitment to tree plantings is combined with common sense changes to the Tree Development Control Plan that will make it easier to replace dangerous or inappropriate trees while requiring replacement trees to be planted.

A further revision of the Tree DCP policy, successfully proposed at last night’s meeting by Councillor Lucille McKenna and seconded by independent Councillor John Stamolis, has resulted in a requirement for trees to be within two metres of a property, not three metres, to qualify for automatic replacement.

The policy, which is detailed below, will now be placed on public exhibition.

Mayor Darcy Byrne said that Council has listened to the community and adopted a balanced policy.

“Council has received lots of feedback about our tree policy expressing two very strong and legitimate views – that replacing dangerous and inappropriate trees must be made easier and less costly for residents – and that overall tree canopy must be expanded,” he said.

“This policy will achieve both of those important objectives.

“Doubling the tree planting budget from $600 000 to $1.2 million will enable us to greatly increase the number of trees in our streets and parks.

“Establishing a ground breaking dial-a-tree service could allow residents to simply phone Council to book a tree from Council free of charge. It’s time that we actively encouraged new plantings.

“Requiring a replacement tree planting for every single tree or weed which is removed from private property is also a sensible change. We’ll enforce that replacement being a mature tree whenever that can be achieved.”

Policy Summary
Tree DCP changes include:
• Trees within two metres of a primary dwelling or garage can be replaced through a simple permit system with a requirement for a replacement tree to be planted. Council will require verification of the replacement with a preference for mature trees.
• Moving the vast majority of tree applications from a Development Application to a simpler and less expensive permit system.
• Increasing the weighting for safety and protection of homes and consideration a cost burdens on residents in the assessment of applications for pruning and replacement of trees.
• Introducing a review mechanism, conducted by the CEO, of Council’s determinations, so that residents have an alternative other than appeal to the Land and Environment Court.
A full copy of the Tree canopy policy (moved by Councillors McKenna and York) below

C0919(2) Item 17 Notice of Motion: Increasing Tree Canopy
Motion: (McKenna/York)

THAT Council:
1. Develop a plan to work with the community to substantially increase the Tree canopy in the Inner West LGA including specific targets for plantings and green infrastructure by suburb, to be reported in advance of the adoption of the 2020/21 Budget to allow for funding allocation;
2. Consider increasing the budget for tree planting from $600,000 to $1,200,000 in the 2020/21 Budget and future budgets, to be considered as part of the upcoming Budget process;
3. Create a new category of award for tree canopy expansion, to acknowledge residents who have collaborated to expand canopy in their streets. This award could be included in either annual built environment or environment awards;
4. Develop a report on a dial-a-tree program that would allow residents request a tree from Council free of charge. The report should include costings and the capacity of Council’s nurseries to provide saplings. The report should be tabled to an ordinary Council meeting within three months;
5. Review and expand the Heritage Tree List or create a Significant Tree List;
6. Develop a Tree List indicating trees suitable for planting close enough to living spaces to provide shade and cooling and which have less invasive root systems;
7. Provide a tree advice phone service to be promoted through Council communications channels, noting that this is not a substitute for inspections for applications;
8. Seek advice on how to achieve wherever underground power cables in medium and large scale developments to allow for major tree plantings;
9. Report on what compliance investigations or auditing has been conducted on large scale developments regarding their adherence to landscape plans and tree planting required as conditions of consent;
10. That a work plan for priority planting in streets with insufficient canopy be developed and reported concurrently with the current audit of trees on public land;
11. Recognising the great benefits in heat reduction, amenity and property values where tree canopy meets in the middle of streets, Council identify streets, where substantial street trees could be planted to have the canopy meet in the middle;
12. Review all underutilised parks and other public spaces to identify priority locations for the creation of urban forests to be reported with the audit of trees on public land; and
13. Develop options to increase volunteerism amongst local residents to assist with the care and maintenance of street trees and seek the support of the community to water and care for new street tree plantings.
For: McKenna, York, Byrne, Drury, Iskandar, Stamolis, Lockie, Hesse, Steer, Da Cruz, Kiat, Porteous
Absent: Macri, Passas and Raciti

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Page last updated: 25 Sep 2019