Bigger death fine for trees

DEVELOPERS who “accidentally” kill street trees in Melville could soon face a death tax of up to $100,000 for each tree.

The council currently uses the Helliwell method to value street trees, but is set to adopt a formula that takes into account species, locality and age, which can result in higher valuations.

Developers who kill a mature lemon-scented gum could soon be pinged $99,164, a mature WA peppermint will set them back $26,147 and a mature jacaranda $23,241.

A mature gum, poisoned in Joondana this year, was valued at just $17,000.

Cr Trish Phelan is hopeful the prospect of being slugged a big bill will stop developers being “careless”. “We’ve had people in million-dollar homes in Melville poisoning trees because it blocks their view of the river,” she sighs.

“And people chopping down trees because the leaves fall into their pool.

“I’m really worried that as areas like Willagee become gentrified, we will lose more and more matures trees to infill.”

Where a tree is to be protected, the value of the tree will be included as a condition of planning approval or as an advice note by council.

The proposed policy will also remove the restriction on the council only installing 100-litre street trees, meaning it can now plant species that are not readily available in that size.

The new fine system is based on Melbourne city council’s tree evaluation method, which applies international standards to Australian species, conditions and requirements.

Last week the Chook revealed a serial tree poisoner could be on the loose in Attadale, after a second area of bushland started dying last weekend.


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