Wollondilly Council seeks feedback on draft policy to save trees

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

Wollondilly Council wants to hear your thoughts on a new policy to protect the region's trees.

The council has developed a draft tree management policy which would provide developers with an incentive to retain some mature trees at future development sites.

The policy also outlines guidelines for existing residents, heritage trees and more.

Mayor Matthew Deeth said the issue was important to the community.

"The management of our established trees has been an ongoing concern for the local community," he said.

"After roads, trees are responsible for most of the complaints council receives.

"We want to see trees on future development sites retained but we also want to have guidelines in place for residents who have trees on their property.

"We need to create a really clear picture of the council's expectations."

The policy outlines how the council will respond in storm events and tree roots in underground pipes.

It will also address the criteria the council will use when a request is made to prune or remove a tree.

The draft document also places emphasis on the value of trees and significant vegetation as essential assets for current and future generations.

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

Cr Gould told the Advertiser at the time that 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 in developing the draft document.

Cr Deeth said he hoped neighbouring councils would adopt something similar.

"It would be wonderful to have a coordinated regional approach to this issue," he said.

"As the weather heats up trees are going to be an increasingly important source of shade."

Cr Deeth urged locals to take a look at the draft policy and have their say.

"If you have a tree on your property please jump in and give us your thoughts," he said.

"We want to make sure we get this right."