Page 1222 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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Incorporated documents

Attachment 1

Document incorporated by the Minister for the Environment

Mr Speaker, it is with a great deal of satisfaction that I bring to the Assembly today a Bill for permanent tree protection for urban Canberra.

You may recall that in May of 2004 I tabled the Tree Protection Bill 2004. However, the elections of October 2004 precluded Assembly debate. The Government has taken the opportunity to re-examine the provisions of the Bill. As a consequence, some amendments have been incorporated to provide greater certainty about decision-making processes, improve integration of tree protection considerations in planning processes and provide a smoother transition to new tree protection arrangements.

The objectives of the Bill are unchanged. The Government remains committed to providing strong and effective legislation that strikes the right balance between protecting the cultural and natural heritage of Canberra without impinging unduly on the expectations and rights of property owners who have trees on their property.

Every Canberran enjoys the benefits of living in one of Australia’s best urban forests. The urban forest provides us with economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits as well as playing an important role in the realisation of Walter Burley Griffin’s vision of a Garden City. The development and maintenance of a healthy urban forest is an important step towards creating a sustainable city.

This Bill will replace the Tree Protection (Interim Scheme) Act 2001 with legislation that will significantly improve the protection of outstanding trees throughout the city and will ensure the benefits of the urban forest can be enjoyed long into the future.

In October 2002, the Government released a discussion paper ‘Tree Protection for the ACT: The Next Steps’. This discussion paper canvassed a range of issues that arose during the administration of the interim scheme.

The community response to the discussion paper and subsequent consultation was strongly supportive of tree protection. However, there was concern at the sometimes onerous and unnecessarily intrusive nature of the current interim scheme. It is apparent that the broad scale, scattergun approach of the current scheme is not appropriate and impacts unduly upon the activities of the very people that helped create Canberra’s Garden City image.

However, the interim scheme has been valuable in preventing the unnecessary removal of trees and wholesale block clearing in redevelopment projects and has been a major factor in making architects and developers consider trees in the planning process.

There are many individual trees and groups of trees throughout this city that the community values highly. Some of the old remnant eucalypts, for example, provide an important link to our past. Some trees are valuable for ecological or botanical reasons, or simply for their outstanding contribution to the landscape of the city.

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