Labouchere Rd tree removal
Journalist’s background: I was contacted by a member of the public about trees being removed from Labouchere Rd. He asked some questions of council at the meeting, which were taken on notice and I will include some of those in my questions. The belief he has, as well as some other residents, is that the trees are dying because of the Aurelia development. Here are my questions, can I get an answer by 2pm tomorrow?
1. How many trees were removed?
2. Why were the trees removed?
3. Does the council believe the impact of the Aurelia development impacted on the water table and the trees?
4. What did council have in place in relation to the Development Approvals with regard to environmental impact from water extraction or injection?
5. What action has been taken now the problem (both the trees and the water table) has been identified?
6. What monitoring at various ground water depths, is proposed around the Aurelia and Civic Heart sites?
7. Will monitoring be set up wherever there is a development proposal going into the water table?
8. What responsibility does the developer have to remedy the impact?
9. Similarly, what responsibility does the City have to remedy the impact?
10. What conditions would the Council apply to existing and future Development Approvals that involve going into the water table?
11. Is there a financial requirement on the developers to recover the cost for remedying the problems created?
Please attribute the following quotes to City of South Perth Deputy Mayor Glenn Cridland.
There has been a rapid and unseasonal defoliation of eight Cut Leaf Plane Trees (Platanus digitata) on a section of the Labouchere Road median strip in South Perth.
The City engaged an independent arborist to provide a report on the trees. In summary, the trees were in a very poor growing environment and had been stressed for many years. Anecdotal evidence highlighted that the trees had dropped their leaves prematurely on numerous occasions.
Limited soil volumes, compaction, impermeable surfaces, impact from cars, heat from adjacent surfaces, have all led to these trees maturing to only a half to a third of the size similar trees would grow in optimal conditions. The adjacent de-watering might have provided the final stress to defoliate these trees. Nonetheless it is obvious that the trees had been under stress for a significant period time prior to any construction activities.
The trees were removed on 25 March 2017 and new trees will be planted in well-prepared sites more conducive to plant growth.
The City has been liaising with a number of State agencies in respect to the recent changes in groundwater levels in the Mill Point Road/Labouchere Road area and has been working with these agencies to suitably manage the situation. The City has been proactive in doing this even though the monitoring of groundwater levels is not the direct responsibility of the City of South Perth.
Development applications are referred to relevant State agencies such as the Swan River Trust and the Department of Environment Regulation as part of the consultation process. Where required, these agencies place conditions in respect to certain environmental matters e.g. the requirement to submit and gain approval of dewatering management plan.
As part of the approval of a dewatering management plan, developers are required to monitor groundwater levels in the vicinity of their sites. The developer is responsible for carrying out works in accordance with relevant approvals. The City is not aware of State agencies setting up independent monitoring wells although that might well be useful in the event of concerns about the extent of groundwater changes and any impacts of groundwater changes.
In regards to the ‘Aurelia’ site, as part of dewatering management plan, the developer is responsible for monitoring groundwater levels and reporting these to the relevant authorities.
The approved dewatering management plan included four wells surrounding the development site and another well outside the infiltration trench on the ‘Civic Heart’ site. The City cannot confirm the exact depth of the wells but is aware that the management plan required a groundwater drawdown trigger level of RL -0.73m AHD for each of the wells.
The City cannot apply retrospective conditions to existing approvals. All development approval conditions are set by the Metro Central JDAP, rather than the Council and must be placed at time of approval.
In respect to developments already approved and requiring a dewatering management plan as conditions of approval, the City will be liaising with the relevant approval authorities such as the Department of Water, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (formerly Swan River Trust) and the Department of Environment Regulation prior to any works commencing.
In addition, the City will consider having a peer review of the management plans by a suitably qualified consultant prior to any sign off.
It is anticipated that as part of the assessment of a new development, an applicant will be requested to provide a dewatering management plan upfront so it can be considered by the relevant authorities prior to the application being determined.
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