Page 3593 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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MR STANHOPE: I move amendments Nos 26 and 27 circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 3619].

The Tree Protection Bill provides a major rethink of the way tree protection needs are incorporated into the development application process. While the bill already provides for significant improvements to the current interim scheme, these amendments provide further finetuning of the processes. The government proposes amending the bill to make tree management plans the primary vehicle for the inclusion of tree protection matters in development applications.

A tree management plan will be required for all development applications that include a protected tree or the tree protection zone of a protected tree. This will simplify the process for consideration of trees in the development assessment process, streamline the operation of the development approval process and improve compliance with tree protection requirements.

The ongoing nature of an approved tree management plan provides the lessee and subsequent lessees with the confidence to manage and protect their trees and plan for future improvements of their property while meeting their obligations in regard to protected trees. As the bill is, it will be possible for more than one tree management plan to exist—for example, a tree management plan approved by the conservator under the Tree Protection Act and one approved as part of the development application under the Land Act.

This may create confusion for the applicant and cause significant compliance problems for the government. The proposed amendments will remove this uncertainty and further improve the integration of tree protection requirements in the development application process by providing that tree management plans approved by the planning authority as part of the development application become a valid tree management plan under the Tree Protection Act.

In order to achieve these improvements, it is necessary to amend the consequential amendments to the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991. It has been identified that the requirement in the bill for the referral of DAs to the conservator—consequential amendment 1.7 to amend 229 (4) of the land act—will result in many applications being referred unnecessarily. The government intends to address this issue by drafting regulations under the Land Act to provide exemptions from this provision.

In addition to these amendments, the government intends to amend the Land (Planning and Environment) Regulations 1992 to address differences between the notification requirements in the Land Act and this bill. These differences may result in neighbours not having access to appeal a decision relating to a tree management plan due to the exemptions under the Land Act. Given the complex nature of these regulations, further time is required to amend them and achieve the successful integration of tree protection into the planning process. This will be undertaken in the period between the passage of the bill in the Assembly and its commencement.

Amendments agreed to.

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