Wollondilly Council hopes new incentive will stop tree removal

Wollondilly councillors want to ensure developers keep some mature trees at green field development sites. Pictures: Wolter Peeters and Simon Bennett
Wollondilly councillors want to ensure developers keep some mature trees at green field development sites. Pictures: Wolter Peeters and Simon Bennett

New housing estates across Macarthur have been criticised for being "seas of grey roofs with hardly a tree in sight".

But Wollondilly councillors wants to stop that from happening in the shire.

The council is expected to develop an urban tree canopy strategy which would provide developers with an incentive to retain some mature trees at future development sites.

Mayor Matthew Deeth said the council hoped to keep the shire as green as possible.

"We understand the value of having an urban tree canopy," he said.

"Trees should be considered as important as vital infrastructure like water and electricity.

"They provide many benefits including the amenity of a suburb and reducing the heat island effect."

Councillors will vote on the idea at next week's council meeting.

If approved council staff will then prepare additional reports on the options available.

The options include a tree replacement policy, a tree valuation and protection policy and developing a local significant tree register.

Deputy Mayor Matthew Gould raised the idea of an urban tree strategy at a council meeting earlier this year.

Cr Gould said adding incentives to retain mature trees in the council's development control plan (DCP) would probably be the best option.

"I think having something in the DCP would be where we would have the most wins but the devil is in the details," he said.

"We need to look at the specific options so that we can get the outcome that the community wants."

Cr Gould said tree removal at development sites had caused "significant outrage" on social media.

"In housing developments where all of the trees have been knocked down it has a different feel," he said.

"It doesn't feel like Wollondilly.

"A lot of trees in the region have been here long before housing so it's obviously a very emotional topic for some people."

Sutherland Shire Council has an Urban Tree Canopy Strategy in place and has been providing advice to Wollondilly Council staff.

Cr Deeth said Wollondilly would need to develop a strategy best suited to the community and natural environment.

He said retaining trees on development sites would help the shire to maintain it's character.

"One thing we hear loud and clear from the community is that mature trees should be retained," he said.

"Look at Oran Park in Camden - barren landscape with a sea of grey roofs as far as the eye can see, hardly a tree in sight.

"That's not what we want for families in the shire."