Day­light shrub­bery

Monthly Chronicle - - News -

Code - the Code that en­sures re­place­ment trees are planted when de­vel­op­ments mean trees need to be taken out for con­struc­tion.

The cur­rent Green Off­set (GO) Codes have been in place since 2015. Within 12 months of every new coun­cil ad­min­is­tra­tion it is in­cum­bent on the coun­cil to re­view all their poli­cies. On the GO Codes, there are rules around the how many trees need re­plac­ing de­pend­ing on the de­vel­op­ment.

“But the new GO Codes which Coun­cil wanted to vote in are mas­sively dif­fer­ent from the ex­ist­ing ones - they’re much weaker and sig­nif­i­cantly wa­tered down,” said Hornsby Shire res­i­dent Jan Prim­rose from Pro­tect­ing Your Sub­ur­ban En­vi­ron­ment, a group of res­i­dents from Mt Co­lah and Asquith where dozens of trees have come down and not been re­placed.

“For ex­am­ple un­der the ex­ist­ing code when a threat­ened species or sig­nif­i­cant tree is re­moved, a rule known as the “mul­ti­plier” is ap­plied to in­crease the num­ber of trees that re­place it.”

Typ­i­cally it’s a one tree taken, four trees re­place it ra­tio, though that de­pends on the species and the site. Coun­cil cur­rently has the power to en­force this, but given the num­ber of de­vel­op­ments left de­void of trees, it begs the ques­tion: has coun­cil been found sleep­ing on the job?

“Un­der the new pro­posed Code that num­ber could be halved with the rest of the trees re­placed by shrubs and grasses.”

Other points of con­tention in­clude “vari­a­tion rules” where of­fi­cers can vary the mul­ti­pli­ers de­pend­ing on the con­straints of the site such as ‘in­suf­fi­cient lot size’.

“But if you can’t find the space for a tree on a site, then the de­vel­op­ment shouldn’t be go­ing ahead,” said an out­raged Jan Prim­rose.

Coun­cil­lors voted at last week’s meet­ing to take the Codes back to the draw­ing board be­fore tak­ing them out to com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion.

A spokesman said: “The Green Off­set Code will go to the Bush­land Man­age­ment Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee and be placed on pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion for 28 days. It is hoped to get it back in front of Coun­cil be­fore the end of the year.”

Jan Prim­rose added: “I think the en­vi­ron­ment team do a great job. With the coun­cil go­ing back to re-ex­am­ine these GO Codes, we’re try­ing to give them the abil­ity to have stronger tools and pow­ers to im­prove the tree canopy in our Shire.”

Hornsby Coun­cil has com­mit­ted to plant­ing 25,000 trees by Sep­tem­ber 2020 to boost the num­ber of trees lost to de­vel­op­ment.

Photo credit: Michael Bianchino

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