Property owners impacted by the 2015 Pinery fire will be able to remove dead trees from roadsides following the approval of a permit in what may become a benchmark approach for other post-fire recovery efforts.
According to Wakefield Regional Council, while rules remain in place to protect native vegetation, the new permit means the land owners can take measures to minimise risks posed by the dead trees.
The trees include native species – and also remove burnt vegetation that has scarred the landscape.
Mayor Rodney Reid said months of negotiation had led to the new permit and he praised both state and local agencies involved in finding a way of addressing the issue of tree management in burnt areas.
“Many land owners in fire affected communities believed the constraints of local government and native vegetation rules should be eased to allow them to remove burnt vegetation from roadsides neighbouring their properties,” Mayor Reid said.
“We all understand these rules are in place for very good reasons – to protect our environment and manage risks to the community. However, land owners have been eager to find a compromise that allows them to remove dead native trees that have no environmental value.
“These land owners have had to drive past burnt, dead trees for more than two years now and that’s unfair for any community trying to recover from a fire. We believe giving land owners the chance to clean up in the road reserves around their properties is a positive step and, in the future, may help communities repair their patch more quickly.
“And while the ability to remove dead and dangerous trees is a benefit, landowners should also exercise a degree of care by ensuring that trees earmarked for removal are dead and not simply making a slow recovery.”
Wakefield worked with the State Disaster Recovery Team, the Department for Environment and Water’s Native Vegetation branch, Natural Resources Management team and the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure following the Pinery fire and has lobbied in relation to the removal of dead native trees.
With the assistance of the Local Government Association’s Mutual Liability Scheme, council adapted the existing Section 221 permit – used to apply for general removal of trees or vegetation from the road – specifically for post-fire areas.
“This has been months of hard work and we are grateful for the efforts of all agencies to find a solution,” Mr Reid said.
The permits relate to any fire-affected grounds in the Wakefield area and will:
- Cover trees on unsealed (low traffic) roads;
- Require the applicant – if not the land owner – to have written permission from the landholder adjoining the trees that are to be felled/removed;
- Require all aspects of the Native Vegetation Act and Regulations – and any other relevant legislation – to be adhered to;
- Require the applicant to show evidence he/she has public liability insurance to cover the specific activity being undertaken.
Land owners, or those permitted by the land owner to remove the trees, can visit wrc.sa.gov.au or phone 8862 0800 for more details.