Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge today introduced a notice of motion into the NSW Upper House seeking support to change the Roads Act to protect historic trees from unnecessary removal.

“Section 88 of the Roads Act is there to protect residents from genuine danger, not to remove historic trees to make way for development,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“If overhanging vegetation is an immediate danger to motorists and pedestrians it should of course be removed, but otherwise any removals must be subject to environment, planning or heritage controls.

“The removal of the historic Laman St figs in Newcastle caused a great deal of community unrest which could have been avoided.

“Instead of saving the Laman St figs, the state government washed its hands of any responsibility. It can make up for that by ensuring that a similar disaster does not occur again,” Mr Shoebridge said.

The Greens will move the motion at some point over the coming weeks.

WORDING OF THE MOTION:

Mr Shoebridge to move:

  1. That this House notes that:
    1. Under Section 88 of the Roads Act, the relevant Roads Authority has the power to remove or prune any vegetation overhanging a road without being subject to any environmental, planning or heritage controls.
    2. This power should ideally only be used when there is a genuine traffic hazard due to overhanging vegetation.
    3. However, in the cast of the Laman St figs in Newcastle, this power was used to remove significant trees that were highly valued by the local community and that did not present any risk that would justify circumventing normal planning requirements, causing much community unrest and unnecessary expense to public authorities.
    4. Proposals to remove vegetation for reasons other than immediate danger should not be exempt from other controls.
    5. Equivalent legislation in Victoria states that the removal of overhanging vegetation is subject to the requirements of other laws, including the Victorian equivalent Local Government Act and Environmental Planning and Assessment Acts.
  1.  That this House calls on the government to amend Section 88 of the Roads Act 1993 so that the removal of trees for reasons other than being an immediate danger is subject to the environmental, planning and heritage controls that should otherwise apply to tree removals and prunings on public land.