Council moves on backyard trees

FREMANTLE residents may soon have to get council approval to chop down a tree in their own garden.

The council is considering an amendment to its planning scheme to make it unlawful to chop down large, healthy trees on private land without submitting a development application.

The move is a reaction to the loss of many of the city’s green backyards to clear-fell sub-division. Fremantle also has one of the metro area’s most sparse tree canopies.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says there’s a slight risk some land owners might try to raze their blocks before the new rules are imposed, but says it’s likely to be a small price to pay for the protection offered in the future.

He says the council didn’t look into offsets in order to bolster its own “urban forest” strategy but says it’s worth investigating.

• Brian Kelly in his White Gum Valley garden. Photo by Stephen Pollock

• Brian Kelly in his White Gum Valley garden. Photo by Stephen Pollock

But White Gum Valley resident Brian Kelly, sitting on a 1087sqm lot with a large garden and five trees, is opposed to the proposal.

He took early redundancy and says with pension pots dwindling, property is often people’s only chance of enjoying a comfortable retirement.

“ What happens if a person’s financial situation suddenly changes and they need to subdivide to generate some income for retirement or medical bills,” he says.

“The council have over-stepped the mark and shouldn’t be interfering with issues on private land.

“They should concentrate on planting more trees on verges and other public spaces.”

The planning scheme tree protection is used by Sydney council and other eastern states municipalities.

Fremantle has a significant tree register, but landowners voluntarily add their tree; developers are reluctant to do so.

According to a 2014 report by the sustainable futures institute, Fremantle has just 10.4 per cent canopy coverage. The council decided this week to put the policy out for consultation.


35 Tuart Place 15x7

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