DEVELOPERS and residents wanting to remove trees to facilitate development will now need to pay for removal costs, after Bayswater council adopted a tree amenity valuation system.
At last night’s committee meeting, the council unanimously adopted the Helliwell system, a method developed by Rodney Helliwell in the United Kingdom in 1967.
The system assigns a tree with a score to six categories including size, duration, importance, tree cover, suitability to the setting and form.
Scores are then multiplied against each other, where the total is multiplied by a dollar base value of $60.
Councillors also supported Deputy Mayor Chris Cornish’s amendment to consider including a clause to place monetary value when trees were removed due to development in the Town Planning Scheme No.24.
The system would be used for general asset cost analysis, asset cost recovery in the event a tree was illegally removed and consideration of asset cost recovery when a resident wants to remove a tree to facilitate development of their property.
Currently, the City made residents pay for the removal and replacement with a smaller tree and removal without replacement and transplanting.
Cities of Stirling , Swan, Vincent, Subiaco, South Perth, Perth, Joondalup, Canning, Gosnells, Belmont and Armadale and the Town of Bassendean have tree valuation systems in place.
Cr Cornish said it was an “exciting and historic” night for the City,
“It is from the big change, courtesy of when Councillor McKenna was Mayor – he really helped us as an organisation move towards the greening and put a focus on the 20 per cent by 2025,” he said.
“This is, as much as it is about development facilitation, it is about preserving the City’s assets and tree canopy.
“It is my clear expectation that any revenue from this be diverted directly into solely further tree plantings to counteract the tree loss that has just occurred.”
Cr Lorna Clarke said the system was based on “environmental economics”.
“It might not be perfect, it might be slightly undervalued at times, maybe overvalued in others but you need a process to do that,” she said.
Mayor Dan Bull said the initiative struck balance between making sure developments could proceed in a way that protected ratepayers from losing valuable assets.
“Where a tree needs to be removed to assist in the facilitation of development, then the fair value of that asset in its removal needs to be recognised and paid,” he said.
“We know that other decision-making bodies such as Development Assessment Panels and (the) State Administrative Tribunal are very comfortable in cherry-picking policies and pushing policies to the side to suit an outcome.
“This gives us a fighting chance to at least do the best we can to create a situation where the policy needs to be followed.”