New rules to give owners more say in how their trees are managed

Published on 28 June 2019

Fallen tree after March storm.JPG

The severe storms that impacted The Hills region in 2018 and 2019, has resulted in The Hills Shire Council reflecting on how trees should be managed on private property after millions of dollars of damage and clean-up was caused.

During the Ordinary Meeting of Council on Tuesday, June 25, it was determined that property owners could remove trees within five metres of an existing approved dwelling and ancillary structure.  

In other amendments to the DCP and Guidelines, dangerous trees, even those that are deemed healthy, can be approved for removal if they are greater than 15 metres in height, and can impact and cause damage to a dwelling. 

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne said it’s what residents have been calling for. 

“We are called the Garden Shire and we have plenty of avid gardeners out here,” Mayor Byrne said.  

“Trees are an important part of our urban landscape and people value them, but the storms have shown us that some of these large trees, located near homes and buildings, can be destructive. 

“In fact, research from the NRMA revealed that the Hills had three of the most storm-affected suburbs in Sydney, including Castle Hill which ranked as the worst-affected suburb in the state, followed by Kellyville in fifth place and Baulkham Hills in seventh place.

“We don’t want people to worry about destructive trees and we want our residents to have more flexibility in how their trees are managed. 

“If the policy and guidelines are too rigid and residents are unable to remove large trees in close proximity to their home that are causing them serious concern, then we are actually creating a disincentive to plant trees in the first place. We think if people have more flexibility in how they manage their trees, they may plant more.” Mayor Byrne added.

Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alan Haselden said the changes seek to achieve a sensible balance between the value of trees in The Hills, potential risks to property and the inherent rights of property owners. 

“No rational person doesn’t appreciate the beauty and utility of trees and Council’s tree preservation policies together with its planting programs in parks, reserves and street scapes bear testament to this,” Deputy Mayor Haselden said.  

“But nobody can deny the fact that some people are highly inconvenienced and fearful of some trees on their own property," he added. 

These changes in the DCP will be exhibited soon for a period of 28 days.  

For further information, visit The Hills Shire Council’s website, www.thehills.nsw.gov.au.