Community group calls for tree policy submissions
The Bays Community Group is urging residents to make submissions about Central Coast Council's proposed tree policy.
The group wants residents to support the Community Environment Network's appeal to protect trees and greenspaces across the Peninsula.
"Our neighbourhood tree canopy is a valuable community resource we need to protect and enhance," said group president Ms Cathy Gleeson.
"Council's 10 year Community Strategic Plan lists as one of its aims: 'promote greening and ensure the wellbeing of communities through the protection of local bushland, urban trees, tree canopies and expansion of the Coastal Open Space System'.
"Council has recently placed on exhibition its draft tree and vegetation management plan for incorporation into the Central Coast DCP.
"Consistent with the Community Strategic Plan, the introduction to the exhibited vegetation management plan sings the praises of trees and their value to the community, but from then on the plan loses the 'Green Vision' espoused by the Community Strategic Plan and dwells on the exemptions available to landowners to avoid having to obtain a Council Permit to remove a tree or vegetation," Ms Gleeson said.
It states: "The plan details when tree and vegetation management works require a permit from Council, and where exemptions from permits are available."
"Council is interested in your feedback as to whether these proposed exemptions will adequately cater for normal gardening practices, while maintaining reasonable requirements for tree preservation and maintaining the amenity of our suburbs," Ms Gleeson said.
"Seventy per cent of the plan informs the reader of the exemptions available, including 17 pieces of state legislation allowing clearing without a Council Permit.
"The plan advises that an exemption is available where Council is satisfied that a tree is dying or dead and is not required as the habitat of native animals, or when the Council is satisfied that a tree is a risk to human life or property," Ms Gleeson said.
"It further states that the Council 'will be satisfied' where recorded evidence from a trade (AQF3) or consulting (AQF5) arborist, identifying the tree species and condition, is retained by the landowner for a period of six months after removal, to be made available to Council on request (i.e. photographs and written expert advice).
"The Community Environment Network is concerned that this provision is open to abuse by unscrupulous landowners with the cooperation of tree removers with minimum entry level qualifications.
"The Network is appealing to the Bays community to make submissions to Council to delete this provision and commit instead to being satisfied that trees may be removed by a process that puts the Community Strategic Plan into practice," Ms Gleeson said.
"According to the Network, Council's undertaking to protect urban trees requires it to be actively involved in the tree removal process in all circumstances.
"It cannot delegate this responsibility to the landowner.
"Council has done costing on the employment of suitable numbers of qualified staff for the purposes of inspection, assessment and processing applications to remove trees and to enforce compliance with Council policy," Ms Gleeson said.
"Council now has the opportunity to allocate sufficient resources to the task.
"The plan currently on exhibition is less than adequate in propagating the Green Vision expressed in the Community Strategic Plan in a number of other aspects," she said.
She said residents seeking information on how to make a submission regarding this issue should contact the Community Environment Network.
The Draft Plan can be viewed on the Your Voice Our Coast website.
Submissions are open until December 6.
Newsletter, 20 Nov 2018
Cathy Gleeson, The Bays Community Group