Ritzy suburb neighbour war over trees in Sydney’s east

Residents in Sydney’s east looking to protect their picturesque views of the harbour, ocean and city could be allowed to tell their neighbours and local council to prune or not plant their trees.

Waverley Council voted at a meeting earlier this month to allow proposed amendments to its draft tree management policy to go to public exhibition.

Under the proposed changes, the policy’s section on planting and tree selection would be amended to ensure new plantings do not “block pre-existing views”.

The amendments would also alter the policy’s section on pruning and maintenance, so pruning would “be allowed to protect a pre-existing or reinstate pre-existing views”.

The amendments were tabled in a motion from Liberal councillor Sally Betts at council’s August 2 meeting.

The motion passed with a six-four majority by council, allowing it to go to public exhibition.

The news received backlash from Saving Sydney’s Trees, which cited the environmental and economical benefits trees can bring.

“One could be forgiven for taking objection to this suggestion,” it wrote.

“Please by all means, let Waverley Council know what you think and keep a check on your council too.”

A Waverley Council spokesperson said the council was “not in the habit of cutting down trees”.

“There are no guarantees that the amendments made to the draft policy will be adopted when the policy is formally adopted,” they said.

“As it stands, Waverley Council does not prune trees to facilitate views unless the resident, through photographic evidence, can establish they had a pre-existing view.”

The council spokesperson also added that if the amendments come to pass they could have impacts on the area’s environment and community.

“If the amendments put forward by Cr Betts were to be adopted in the final policy, officers would need to spend time investigating claims about existing views and managing these requests would increase the workload of our tree management team,” they said.

“From an environmental perspective, continued pruning can also place trees under stress and may cause loss of vegetation, habitat and amenity that trees provide.

“Depending on how many requests council received to remove or prune trees, the amendments, if adopted in the final policy, could also impact the opportunity for larger canopy trees for shade, habitat and green spaces in parks, reserves and beaches.”

The draft tree management policy and its amendments will be put on public exhibition for feedback and community consultation in the coming months.

Councillors will later vote on whether to endorse the policy following that community consultation.

Originally published as Ritzy suburb neighbour war over trees in Sydney’s east

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