Pining for more protection

• Tree loppers take out the old pine tree along Canning Highway between Gill and Walter Streets. Photo by Steve Grant.

AN East Fremantle resident has called for stronger by-laws to protect significant trees after a huge pine which had been on a preservation order was cut down in his neighbourhood.

Tony Flynn says he’s been living nearby for decades and has never seen the tree drop a branch, but East Fremantle council says the property owners had commissioned a report in 2018 that found the tree was “dangerous”.

The council’s CEO Gary Tuffin told the Herald the tree had been earmarked for preservation when the original application to approve the site’s townhouses was granted in 1997.

“Unfortunately, council currently has limited powers to request the retention of trees on private property, other than by way of an assessment and determination of a development application,” Mr Tuffin said.

“The town is currently undertaking an assessment of the public realm and streetscape, which will result in a style guide for public areas (including verges) and will make a number of recommendations to improve and increase the public realm tree canopy within the town, therefore assisting in promoting and maintaining the town’s tree canopy.”

The council did start looking into a significant tree register which would have roped in private properties back in 2016, but it was sent back to committee for “further consideration” and hasn’t seen the light of day since.

Mr Flynn said the council should crank it back up again and support its residents.

“We do our bit to preserve the heritage of the area, and these big trees are a significant part of that,” Mr Flynn said.

by STEVE GRANT and SEAN HILL

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