Consideration of Conservator's decision to refuse tree removal

The applicant applied to the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna for approval to remove a regulated claret ash tree.  The Conservator refused the application. In reviewing the Conservator's decision, ACAT considered whether the criteria in Paragraph 1(b), (c) and (d) in Schedule 1 of the Tree Protection (Approval Criteria) Determination (No.2) had been met. 

Paragraph 1(b) requires the tree to represent an unacceptable risk to public safety. Although the tree debris could pose a slip hazard, ACAT held that this could be addressed by normal maintenance, although it acknowledged the applicant’s age and income could make such measures harder to achieve.

Paragraph 1(c) requires that the tree threatens to cause substantial damage to a building, structure or service. The applicant argued that the tree's roots had damaged the property's driveways. However, the Conservator presented evidence that the roots in the driveway belonged to an ivy plant, and that these concerns could be addressed through the ivy’s removal.

Paragraph 1(d) requires that the location of the tree is inappropriate given its potential size. The applicant presented evidence that the clearance between the tree and major structures was less than that recommended in various published guidelines. However, ACAT placed more weight upon the Conservator's argument that the tree had already reached its full potential, and that it provided adequate clearance for access.

ACAT also held that there were no exceptional circumstances under Paragraph 3. The applicant argued that the steep incline of the driveway and busy nature of the street should be considered. However, ACAT held these attributes were common and would not affect its assessment. 

This case illustrates the process by which ACAT decides whether tree removal is appropriate. In making a decision at the second stage, ACAT will consider practical aspects of an applicant's situation, such as their age or income. 


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