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SA Development (Regulated Trees) Amendment Bill: Ridgway’s concerns include as yet undrafted regulations, urban trees fund and make-good orders

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

Regarding the Development (Regulated Trees) Amendment Bill, David Ridgway MP (Leader of the Opposition) said the Liberal Party did not support the bill in its present form, although he had not yet seen a number of its amendments.

Too much left to regulations: Ridgway said the opposition was concerned that the bill left too much to the discretion of the regulations – which had not yet been drafted – and that two major stakeholders had raised similar concerns.

Urban trees fund questioned: Upon seeking clarification, Ridgway had learned that one regulation specified that under the legislation people would be able to pay into an urban trees fund. Although local government was not required to set up the urban trees fund, members of the community who wished to remove a regulated tree could do so by paying into such a fund. The regulation would see some monetary value placed on trees to reflect their worth in the community and for their contribution to the biodiversity of the local community and the local environment; and, if they were to be removed, their dollar value would reflect their worth in such a fashion that, if other trees were planted as a result of the urban trees fund, the contribution would be significant enough to replace that worth. However, the opposition was alarmed when advised that it was likely that there would not be a tiered system: it would probably just be a couple of hundred dollars per tree – although at that point nobody knew what would be in the regulations.

Make-good orders unworkable: Ridgway also took issue with the make-good order that a court might give if a breach of the act occurred by means of a tree-damaging activity. The order might include to plant new trees; to remove buildings, works or vegetation; or to nurture, protect and maintain any trees until they were established. If a person ceased to be the owner or occupier of the land to which the make-good order applied, the court might authorise a person to enter land to comply with the order and/or land specified in order to comply. Ridgway found such an order totally unworkable, giving an example of a person who had cut down a tree, built a shed and then sold the land, coming back to enter someone else’s property, pull down the shed and make good. He did not think you could replace a 25-year old tree with another tree that made good its original condition.

No trust in govt: He said the opposition had a number of significant concerns, and had not seen any of the regulations or been given any guarantees or surety from the ministerial advisers. He reported that two major stakeholders had said they had a low level of trust in the regulations’ reflecting the good intentions with which they were made. They simply did not trust the government and would very much like to see the draft regulations before proceeding.

Reference: David W. Ridgway, Leader of the Opposition, Legislative Council, South Australia, 11 September 2007.

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