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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 448 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

It is based on a whole series of reports that have been garnered and have been paid for, and it does not necessarily follow that we need to make that external expenditure in the future to complete the job. We are now expecting, from a number of quarters, the innovative suggestions that some thought were lacking in that discussion paper. So I am really looking forward to an exiting time.

Trees in Nettlefold Street, Belconnen

MS TUCKER: My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Mr Stanhope, and relates to the trees on Nettlefold Street, Belconnen. I did give the minister some notice of this question because it includes some details. Given the importance of these trees to the Belconnen community and that it appears from an assessment dated 3 April 2002 that trees numbered 11, 12, 13, 14 and 26 were not assessed as an unacceptable risk to public/private safety, whereas in a recent assessment dated 8 January 2003 all those trees were assessed as an unacceptable risk to public/private safety and given also that there was not proper consultation with the community on this matter and the fact that the government is aware of other expert opinion that does not agree with the latter assessment, will the minister agree to have these assessments redone by an appropriately qualified person to be determined in consultation with the community organisations and members who are trying to protect those trees?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Tucker for the notice but, I regret, it was not quite long enough. I am still trying to get a response to the specific issue raised around the apparently different assessments made. I will have to have that checked.

In relation to the Nettlefold Street trees, however, the Conservator of Fauna and Flora made a decision to approve tree-damaging activities on block 12 section 2 Belconnen, which is on the corner of Coulter Drive and Nettlefold Street. The block was sold in, I think, 2000 and purchased by an owner of one of the major liquor outlets in the ACT.

The decision made by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna permitted the removal of seven trees and ground work within the tree protection zone of five trees. The conservator's decision took into account the Commissioner for the Environment's recommendations in the report on his investigation into the protection of remnant yellow box and red gum trees on block 12 section 2.

Six of the seven trees approved for removal were determined by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to be either in decline, with a short life expectancy, or to present an unacceptable risk to public or private safety. One tree was approved for removal on development-related grounds. The tree is in poor form and likely to be hazardous when mature.

If the site were to be reacquired and turned into a park, removal of the trees would be necessary, I am advised, if there were to be public access to the site. The reacquisition of the site was raised when my colleague was Minister for the Environment. I believe that both he and the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell, consulted on that decision. I understand that at the time the expectation was that reacquisition of the site would have cost the ACT government between $750,000 and $1 million. At this stage, that is not a priority for ACT government expenditure.

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