Below is a report on last night’s City of Stirling Planning & Development Committee Meeting, regarding TREES AND DEVELOPMENT – LOCAL PLANNING SCHEME NO.3 AMENDMENT AND POLICY – INITIATION (the full Agenda can be found here on page 124).
It is important to note that, this is just the first step, there is a long way to get an amendment to the Local Planning Scheme, it would take over a year to get an amendment decided on and then approved by the WAPC. The whole proposal has to go out for public consultation.
Whilst we congratulate the City’s initiative in proposing this amendment, we must stress that the amendment must be capable of protecting the tree canopy. Existing trees provide canopy cover, new trees don’t for around 20 years.
During the discussion on this item, Councillors spent most of their time debating what should happen when developers remove trees, rather than how to stop them removing them.
One sticking point was in Attachment 1 of the Agenda on pg 141;
d) The Council may as a condition of planning approval require the planting of an advanced tree, at the applicant’s cost, on an abutting road reserve.
Cr. David Michael argued that the Council should pay for trees on road reserves (verge/street trees) and the word “applicant” should be changed to “Council”. However, this was strongly contested by Cr. David Boothman, who said that the objective was to retain existing trees (pg 140) because it was too expensive for the City to replace them for developers. Cr. Michael’s argument was voted down.
Councillors voted to recommend Option 2, on page 131. Though some said they felt that Option 4 would be more effective at protecting the tree canopy, but they didn’t think the WAPC would never allow it and therefore, it would be better to have Option 2 than nothing at all? Cr Guilfoyle was the only one who stressed he wanted Option 4. The Committee’s recommendation will now go to the full Council Meeting next Tuesday (15th March, 7pm).
We wanted them to vote for Option 4 , see our Deputation given at the beginning of the meeting. We believe we need an amendment that will do an effective job of protecting existing trees and assist in increasing the urban canopy, otherwise this whole exercise would all be a total waste of time?
If the WAPC refuse to approve an amendment, that would enable the City of Stirling to effectively protect the urban canopy and mitigate dangerous urban heat and protect their citizens from rising temperatures, then they will have to try and justify that decision to the people of WA? Cities over East and around the world are protecting trees, we must too.
Stalling tactics can no longer be tolerated, lives and our economy is at stake.