PROBLEM TREES AND HEDGES
Mrs ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Madam President, while I have congratulated both the member for Hobart and the member for Western Tiers I will do it on the record to say congratulations and welcome.
I congratulate the member for Pembroke for bringing this forward. I am quite sure most of us have had these issues come before us, and I have a couple of very similar issues before me at the moment. The member for Rumney mentioned that a view is a right under the planning scheme. Well, not under all planning schemes. In fact, under our planning scheme in Launceston, it certainly is not a right -
Mr Mulder - By correction I am saying that it exists incidental to the fact that there is a limit to the height of buildings, and there is a limit to the area a building can cover. So it is not a direct right but it is built into the size and scale of the development that can occur.
Mrs ARMITAGE - Depending, of course, on the house behind the house that is going up in front. I am sure the honourable member for Windermere will remember one poor gentleman whose view from his home was totally blocked off by an extension that was done in front of his house -
Mr Dean - West Launceston?
Mrs ARMITAGE - Yes, whether it was a tree or not. The motion that is before us provides a suitable mechanism for providing guidelines and that is what is really important: to give guidelines to people so they know what they can have and what they cannot. It is all very well to say yes, you can cut a tree, you can slice up the side of a tree that is overhanging but you cannot take the top off it. That is the issue that we have in most of the areas with views. With sunlight, it is the height of the tree, not so much as what is overhanging their property.
At the moment I have a gentleman who is suffering severely from multiple sclerosis, and he is another one whom I think the member for Windermere is probably aware of. He cannot move even a finger and there is a huge gum tree next door that terrifies this man. His wife would not be able to get him out of bed if the tree fell but that tree cannot be cut down because the people who own it say, 'If you want to trim it, you pay for it'. These people cannot afford to pay for it. There are so many issues.
There is also a lady with a tree on the next-door neighbour's property that blocks her vision when she is entering her property. If it had been on council land she could apply to have it removed but when it is on private land, which is one of the issues brought up by the member for Pembroke, she cannot. This elderly lady has difficulty looking to see how she gets out of her property because of the tree on the neighbour's land. They are not the friendliest of neighbours. They have had disputes in the past and it is almost like tit for tat - 'You have done things to me in the past so I am not removing this tree'. I even had the local policeman speak to the neighbour but there was really nothing he or council could do. So there are many areas like that.
Another issue I have at the moment has to do with acorns dropping from a huge oak tree into another neighbour's property that causes a danger of tripping over. The tree is on the neighbour's property but the acorns are dropping on their property. If they slip or fall over, who is liable? There are so many issues.
We could all go on and I do not intend to go on and on, just to say that I agree with the member for Pembroke. It is a good motion to bring forward. It would be great if local councils could deal with it but it is probably beyond their scope. So many forest giants have been planted in the suburbs, as we well know. They are everywhere and they cause a lot of grief to many people.
The main thing is that we are not advocating that trees get cut down. Trees are wonderful and I have heritage trees next to me which cause me grief in that I have to pay a fortune to have them trimmed even though they are not my trees. In City Park across the road, some of the trees block out a lot of my sunlight but you put up with things like that. But some people, as were shown by many of the pictures that the member for Pembroke provided to us, I think in one the boundary fence looked like it was the minimum - it might have been four or five feet away - that was totally blocking sunlight, warmth, total amenity as well as view. Issues like that need to be dealt with.
We are not advocating that every tree is cut down. Trees are wonderful. They provide great amenity as well as shade and ambience. However, on some occasions where trees block views, where a tree totally reduces the ability of the person to enjoy the lifestyle that they have, then we should be looking at it. I will certainly be supporting the motion that we look for a simple mechanism to provide guidelines. It is a good motion and I thank you for bringing it forward.