New laws to protect significant trees

Brimbank council has introduced new law to further protect significant trees

The controversial removal of a much-loved oak tree in Maribyrnong won’t be repeated in Brimbank after the council introduced new laws to protect significant trees.

At last week’s meeting, the council added a significant trees clause to its local laws, to protect trees that meet certain criteria within Brimbank.

Brimbank director city development Stuart Menzies said that while the provision doesn’t impose any immediate controls, it does offer some safeguards.

“The new provision in Council’s General Local Law is an ‘enabling’ provision. It does not impose any immediate controls,” Mr Menzies said.

“It does however give a basis for council to identify significant trees on private land and regulate their protection.”

Currently there are no rules to identify trees eligible for protection under the local law, however Mr Menzies said a set of criteria will be developed by the new year.

“Council will consult about the criteria and identification of trees for protection under the local law.

“It is expected that this work will commence in 2018.”

The council currently has its own register of significant trees on council land which are managed by the council’s parks and conservation teams.

The new added clause will extend the protection to significant trees on privately-owned land.

The clause now states a person must not remove, damage, destroy or lop a significant tree or engage a person to do so, without a permit or written instruction from an electricity service provider. A person removing, damaging, destroying or lopping a significant tree on the basis of written instruction from an electricity provider must retain a copy of the written instruction for a 12 month period from the date works on the tree were carried out.

An authorised officer who reasonably believes that a person has contravened the policy has the power to issue a fine of $1000.

The move comes after the removal works on an old oak tree in Maribyrnong began last week, sparking widespread backlash.

The tree, which has been a fixture in Footscray since the late 1800s was able to be removed by a developer without a permit since it is on privately-owned land.

Maribyrnong council is facing considerable pressure to beef up its tree protection rules.