The appalling decision by Wyong Council last night that has removed all local protections for urban trees is a destructive, knee-jerk response to the extremely rare and severe storms in NSW.
New South Wales Greens MP David Shoebridge is urging Hunter councils not to make “knee-jerk” reponses when reviewing tree policies.
It comes after Wyong Council removed all local protection for trees because of significant damage caused to properties in the recent storms.
Newcastle Council voted this week to review its street tree master plan.
Mr Shoebridge said last week’s storm was a rare event, and councils need to make careful and considered responses to it.
Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The severity of these storms was extremely rare and the damage they caused in flooding, tree loss and power loss was almost unparalleled for NSW.
“This once-off event is not a proper basis to send in the chainsaws and destroy trees without regard to the danger they represent or the environmental impact of their loss.
“We have seen the unthinking damage caused by the Coalition’s dreadful 10/50 bushfire laws that have seen thousands of trees lost without providing any meaningful protection in return.
“It is an appallingly slipshod and unthinking process for a Council to tear down decades of tree protection laws through an extraordinary council meeting, when almost 90% of community submissions had strongly objected.
“This Liberal dominated Council is just following the lead of the new and undercooked Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliot, who called for fewer tree protection laws within days of taking office.
“Both the Council and the Minister are wrong when they say legal changes are needed to remove trees that are a risk to houses and electricity supplies.
“If either of them had asked a competent adviser they would have been informed that local authorities, emergency services and local residents can remove any vegetation which poses an immediate risk.”
“The Greens are maintaining our call for evidence-based and rational policies on tree protection laws that protect life and property, but also maintain the beautiful tree lined suburbs that make Australian cities and towns so special,” Mr Shoebridge said.