Big fines for tree killers

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KILL a tree in Perth and you could be out of pocket a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

Perth city council has unanimously approved a new policy that dramatically increases the stakes for vandals and lazy developers. Previously, only a “minimal monetary value” was requested to fund a replacement. That’s led to mature, healthy trees being replaced by saplings that take decades to grow.Perth city council is getting serious about protecting its trees. Photo by Jeremy DixonUnder the new policy various factors including tree size, aesthetics, species, condition and significance will be taken into account when calculating the true cost of replacement.

One example given shows a mature tree at 76 per cent of its full growth has a value of $223,861.88.

The PCC reckons the price is fair given trees’ important role in fighting climate change, enhancing biodiversity, air and water quality, fighting erosion, and providing shade and reducing traffic noise.

The council says it will only pursue the big penalties “where a tree is wantonly destroyed”, with a loophole for diligent developers.

“Where a tree or trees are required to be removed for a development and the developer can demonstrate every effort has been made to avoid the need to remove a tree or trees then the council may grant an exemption and the costs may be waived.”

A calculation method held up in court in the eastern states, while locally South Perth took on a developer and won when the company paid out before the case went to court.

by DAVID BELL

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