Regulated v Significant Trees-The New Legislation

Last night I attended a workshop on the new significant tree, sorry, regulated tree regulation. This will impact significantly on the inner rim councils, particularly us here at Unley.

The workshop was to provide participants with a basic knowledge of what it means to all of us.

I am attempting here to give you all a precis of what the workshop revealed about the legislation.

My first reaction is that it will take a while to get to know it and there are going to be a number of anomalies that will need ironing out as often happens with new legislation. Based on discussions in the room tonight there are already areas we can identify where the legislators have not recognised what can be do to circumvent the legislation.

Notwithstanding this here are some basics from the legislation that I think I have understood and that i pass on to you now.

1    The legislation is current as of Nov 17 last.
2   We now have a new approach in that all trees with a trunk over 2.0m diameter measured 1.0m from the ground are regulated trees.
3    Significant trees are now defined as either; because they have a trunk with a diameter of 3.0m or more or; have been specifically nominated either by the local council or the minister in a given development plan.
4   There are now exemptions and these include:
     a)    trees located within 10m of an existing dwelling or swimming pool, irrespective of whether the structure is on the same title of land as the tree.
    b)    trees of particular species and these are wide.
5    Then there will be exemptions to those trees (exemptions to the exemptions) and I don’t intend to go there because I need time to absorb which and where and when.
6    Pruning will no longer be considered tree damaging activity so long as you do not remove more than 30% of the crown of the tree and so long as only dead wood  or branches that pose a risk in certain circumstances is what is pruned.
7    You can prune a neighbours tree, so long as you obtain development approval (and there is no fee associated with this type of pruning) from the council and only on that part of the tree overhanging your property.
8    There will no longer be a requirement for obtaining expert advice to support an application where the tree has a trunk less than 3.0m circumference. Having said that I am not sure how most of us are going to be able to determine what the species a given tree is without help from an expert.

The legislation however has made it now mandatory for the council to condition any approval for removal with a condition that the tree be replaced with would you believe (unless an exempted tree or located within 10m of a building or swimming pool):

        if the tree is a regulated tree under the act (over 2.0m but less than 3.0m)
it must be replaced with 2 new trees.
        if the tree is a significant tree under the act (over 3.0m) with 3 trees.

Of course an applicant can choose in lieu to contribute to a new fund called the “urban trees fund”, at would you believe only $ 75.00 for each replacement tree not planted.

Good luck understanding this. Please also be forgiving if our staff take a while to process your application or to offer advice prior to you lodging an application. They will need time to apply the new laws to your specific case.

Oh! And finally! Regulated or significant trees will no longer be classified as category 2 development which means you will no longer be able to make representation on a development application by your neighbour for tree damaging activity.

In closing may I suggest you keep a lookout for further blogs on this topic particularly blogs correcting errors of interpretation on my part. I am bound to have got something wrong, such is the  initial complexity of the legislation.


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