Monday, March 04, 2013

Trees and bloody councils

Dealing with the local council is something many of us have problems with.

They think differently from us, councillors and bureaucrats alike. They speak a different language.

I think the problem is actually that far too many of them have power way beyond their abilities.

I've been told what I could and couldn't do, told what I had to do, by young, inexperienced, untalented council empoyees who I wouldn't even have put on a short-list for a job with me.

Trees are a big problem. I remember a run-in with a council over a huge liquidamber just in front of a house we previously lived in.

There was a large branch growing at a dangerous angle and it was obviously going to come crashing down. I called council for permission to lop it, so they sent an 'expert' to have a look.

It was not a problem, he decided, so it need not, and could not, be lopped. We debated the point at length. In the end I told him that when it did crash to the ground, causing damage and possibly injury, I would be holding him responsible and taking the necessary action.

He would not be responsible, he confidently assured me, because it would be an act of God.

It duly came down a few months later, smashing the fence and breaking the neighbour's water pipe. A big loss of water in a drought period and a fair bit of money to repair the damage.

Two tree/council stories on the same day last week highlighted the problem, and the double standards.

One concerned a similar but more serious tree event.

The council had been told a 30 metre tall Norfolk pine swayed dangerously in high winds.

"We are extremely concerned it may fall on our  neighbours' house, causing severe damage. But more importantly, it may even injure or kill someone," residents wrote in an application to remove it.

The council rejected the application because their 'expert' arborist deemed the tree to be in good health and condition, with no structural faults. He added that it was a significant landscape feature that providing amenity to the area.
The council even suggested that the tree should be heritage-listed.

When, inevitably, it did come down it destroyed a house and narrowly missed the occupants.

I do hope the people responsible are held responsible.

The other story on the same day was the opposite - a council removing trees against residents' wishes - and demonstrates the double standards.

Some four years ago a project for the Exclusive Brethren to build a large meeting hall was first proposed. Residents lodged objections and the project was rejected twice, with the Land & Environment Court also ruling in favour of the residents.

Now the new council has approved it and with unseemly haste the stand of trees has come down.

We're in that particular council's area and we have a dangerous, huge gum tree on council land in front of a neighbour's house. For years various neighbours have asked for it to be removed - we've even agreed to share the cost amongst ourselves. Always rejected.

Council 'improved' the road a couple of years ago and to do it cut away soil and roots, destabilising the tree even more. They even removed the twin tree completely because it was in the way of their 'improvements'. But the remaining tree, I'm told, now has a preservation order on it.

It will come crashing down and it will destroy property, plus who knows what injury to people.

It's all just more confirmation, as though we needed it, that we have far too much government staffed by people with far too little talent and ability and far too little concern for the people they 'serve'.

Tree flattens house.

Trees removed.

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