Page 2245 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2022
relating to a person caught in the act of damaging a tree or in breach of an approved tree management plan without approval. It will be an offence to not follow a canopy contribution agreement. For registered trees which are damaged, the conservator may declare a no-build zone around the tree protection zone of the tree for a period of time that adequately reflects the significance of the tree that is lost.
The ACT government consulted the local community and industry on a draft version of this bill from April to June 2022. During this period, individuals, groups, and the arboriculture, development and conservation industries engaged with the proposed bill. There was widespread support for a sustainable urban forest. We heard about the importance of protecting significant and cultural trees, of balancing tree protection and safety, and improving tree management whilst ensuring that no-one is disadvantaged by the reforms. A range of views was also received on the financial impacts of the draft bill, including tree valuation.
In response to this feedback, several changes were made to the draft bill that was circulated as part of the public consultation which have now been incorporated into the final bill introduced today. The majority of the changes have been amendments to wording to achieve the original policy intent and support human rights. There have also been some procedural changes to improve our administrative processes.
Clear definitions and appropriate time frames and processes for assessing tree applications will promote understanding of the new requirements and timely, quality decisions. Transitional provisions will assist industry to adjust to the bill. There have also been safeguards added to ensure that we uphold cultural rights and offer fair and reasonable treatment to all. Lastly, clear reporting and review requirements will ensure that we measure our progress towards protecting the urban forest.
We recognise that this bill introduces a number of significant changes. To assist industry and the community to adjust, applications which are submitted prior to 1 July 2023 will be assessed under the law in place at the time of application. New requirements such as the canopy contribution framework and tree bonds will not apply to these applications. This includes tree-damaging activity applications, tree management plans and development applications which include trees.
The ACT community recognises the important role trees play in the community for wellbeing, biodiversity and resilience to climate change. The bill provides a significant step forward to support the government’s target to achieve 30 per cent canopy cover or equivalent in urban areas of the ACT by 2045. The bill ensures that, as the ACT grows and develops, we protect, enhance and grow our urban forest so that Canberrans can enjoy the benefits of healthy trees now and for future generations to come. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Ms Lawder) adjourned to the next sitting.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (11.31): I move: