Anger over decision to remove tree

Peter Langlands
Peter Langlands

An illawarra flame tree and a rose gum have been deemed dangerous to children.

City of Swan councillors voted 9-5 on April 16 to uphold a previous decision to cut down the two trees on public land, despite an aborist’s report to the contrary.

In January, 11 residents of Claymore Close, Guildford, signed a petition seeking the removal of the trees.

According to the council minutes, reasons put forward for the removal included ‘mess in the park made by the shedding bark and small branches from the tree, the risk of large branches excising from the tree and the risk associated with the falling of the tree during storm and wind events’.

City of Swan officers said debris at the site seemed to be ‘normal seasonal habits of this species of tree’.

An arborist’s report said: ‘The trees are healthy and in sound condition, with no remedial works required.’

The risk assessment confirmed that ‘the trees represent a low risk to the public’.

Council staff recommended the trees be retained, but ‘if council resolves to remove the trees, it is recommended that such removal be subject to consultation with the community.’

However, three weeks later Cr Daniel Parasiliti presented a new motion to remove the trees.

At that meeting, he said ‘it is not accepted that the trees are of ‘low risk’ and it is believed that they pose an unsatisfactory risk to local residents’.

Councillors then voted again on the future of the trees, with the majority voting for the trees’ removal.

Cr Parasiliti argued that the arborist’s report was flawed.

He said branches found on the ground were 5cm thick, not 3.5 cm, and the tree was not viewed on a windy day, which he said posed an ‘unsatisfactory risk to local residents’.

However, Transition Town Guildford spokesman Peter Langlands said the trees were ‘young and healthy’.

‘The trees are in the middle of a public park and do not overhang any property,’ he said.

‘The removal goes against the advice of the City’s own expert, who described the trees of being of ‘low risk to the public’.’

Dr Langlands said the decision had set a dangerous precedent.

‘If mature, healthy trees in a public park can be cut down for no obvious requirement, despite being of low risk, where do you stop? Irrational fear of low natural risk seems to be driving decision makers to extremes,’ he said.

City of Swan CEO Mike Foley said if a councillor advised they were obtaining signatures for a rescission motion, the implementation of the council resolution would be put on hold.

“If a rescission motion is not received within an adequate timeframe, then the council decision will stand,” he said.