Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 October 2017) . . Page.. 4363 ..

that we see around at the moment, the deep shades of summer, the glorious colours of autumn and the stark beauty of our trees in winter. We all love our trees when they are appropriately selected and planted in the landscape.

But Ms Le Couteur’s motion is not just about trees. It does have some motherhood platitudes about trees and how lovely they are, but this motion also points to bureaucracy and red tape, and I think it has Ms Le Couteur sitting on both sides of the solar panel and the tree target fence. Ms Le Couteur bemoans the future absence of trees in new suburbs because of narrow streets, small house blocks and lack of trees. But at the same time the demands for solar access have been a key feature of the Greens’ platform, demanding solar access for all. As a result of Ms Le Couteur’s and the Greens’ demand for better trees yet more solar access, we see flip-flopping government policy at play.

The government talks a big game when it comes to solar panels on homes but refuses to prune trees on existing panels to allow older homes access to solar. I will give one example that I wrote to the minister on earlier this year:

[My constituent] has recently contacted me regarding the excessive shade on his house from the trees opposite to him. My constituent asks whether some pruning may occur to enable some sunshine and warmth on his home during winter. My constituent has also mentioned to me that he cannot consider the installation of solar panels because of the excess of shade rendering the installation of solar panels useless. I would appreciate if you could investigate and advise …

The response I received was:

Thank you for your letter on behalf of [your constituent] regarding excessive shade from trees growing across the street from his house at [address]. The trees growing opposite your constituent’s property are predominantly remnant eucalyptus, which pre-date the suburb and, as such, are considered crucial habitat for native species in the woodland area. Whilst actively promoting the use of passive solar energy in new suburbs and new development areas, the government does not routinely remove or extensively prune sound, healthy trees to improve access to solar energy or reduce residents’ carbon footprint in established suburbs. As you would appreciate, there has to be a balance between residents gaining access to solar energy and the positive benefits provided to individuals and the community by urban trees. Urban trees provide many benefits, including shading in summer, thermal insulation, wind amelioration, improved air quality, reduced water run-off and habitat for wildlife. After considering all the factors, including the location of [your constituent’s] house on the low side of the street, the government does not support the removal of the trees across the road from [your constituent’s] residence.

So what is going to happen in the future? Improving the tree canopy is, we all agree, important. What is that going to mean for solar access in future suburbs, in homes that people are being encouraged to put solar panels on but that will encounter significant shade in the future? It is a difficult situation and, as with many things that the government encounters, it does not necessarily have a simple solution.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video