All Topics / Legal & Accounting / infringement for ‘destroying’ a tree

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  • Profile photo of NATS12NATS12
    Join Date: 2003
    Post Count: 129

    need some potential wisdom from forumites here.

    I have a town planning permit for a subdivision i have completed. In this is a tree that remains as part of the planning permit. it has no ‘tree protection zone’ on the tree. other trees on my property have zones that i am unable to build within.

    i have a building permit that allows me to build the house i want. this goes to within 1.5m of the specified tree with no tree protection zone on it.

    now i am under construction and have requested to council that i want this tree removed in fact. they’ve gone and inspected it and are now saying they are going to give me an infringement notice becasue when the slab was laid and site prepared some of the said trees’ roots were destroyed, and the tree is now ‘destroyed’.

    i’m lost here. I’ve been doing all the correct things, getting the correct permits and so on and now the council’s telling me they are going to serve me with an infringement notice of up to $2,000!!!!!!!

    does anybody have any experience with this sort of thing or advice. as far as i can see i have all required permits to have done everything i’ve done in building. how can they approve a building permit and a town planning permit that results in me getting an infringement. if they wanted to protect the said tree’s roots, why didn’t they place a tree protection zone around it.

    i know this is a complicated one but if anyone can share any advice please do so. PM me if you like, i’d really appreciate it.


    Profile photo of PursefattenerPursefattener
    Join Date: 2004
    Post Count: 217

    Hi Nats

    I've had issues with something similar before . It  was a widening of a driveway entrance to an industrial block  and some small trees were removed to allow this . To offset this I was required to put in shelter belts along my boundary . Seemed a fair compromise to me .

    Is it possible for you to do something similar ?

    One thing is for sure you won't get far fighting with these people . Try to talk to the person that has it in for you and see what could be done perhaps ?

    Profile photo of hallghallg
    Join Date: 2006
    Post Count: 31

    Hi Nats, I have not had your precise situation but late last year I took out a number of trees to build a tennis court. I had been to council a number of times prior to starting work and I felt sure I had all my bases covered. Despite this I still ended up with council officers on my door step threatening all soughts of things. In the end I avoided any fines and believe the main reason for this was due to the fact that I didn’t try to “beat” them. I listened to what they had to say and tried to show I valued their comments. On more than one occassion I said the the words ” I see what you mean”. Sure I explained to them and showed them the evidence of my attempt to do the right thing but I doubt whether this would have been enough in its self. The previous post is good advice. All the best


    Profile photo of millionsmillions
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 355

    I've just purchased a new property which showed in the Building Inspection a tree has grown above and over a gutter and needs to be trimmed.  I asked the PM if he could trim it. He told me your not allowed as it is within a local council that are like the "tree police".  Only a qualified arbourist is allowed to touch it, otherwise your in for a $2000 fine.  The tree is actually inside a townhouse complex, not a council tree or anything significant.

    Profile photo of Steve McKnightSteve McKnight
    Join Date: 2001
    Post Count: 1,763


    I think going down the road of working with the council is better than bunking in for a fight. In the end, they can slap you with an infringement notice and leave you to argue all you like.

    A possible strategy may be to get the tree doc out to say the tree isn’t dead…

    Otherwise, offer to fund some planting of trees in the local area to make up.

    Your worst case scenario is a painful financial lesson.

    Let us know how you get on please.

    Steve McKnight | Pty Ltd | CEO

    Success comes from doing things differently

    Profile photo of NATS12NATS12
    Join Date: 2003
    Post Count: 129

    well my saga continues.  over a week ago the council planning guy told me that he couldn't give a permit because the tree is already 'destroyed' so they've referred it to the infringement guy for enforcement. I asked if he could please get that person to call me before giving me a fine so we could discuss the matter and i could be told specifically which law I have broken (I still dont' understand how I've broken the law to be fined when i have permits for everything I've done!!!).

    Anyway, I've heard nothing and then today my husband and I receive an infringement EACH to our shock of $537 EACH.

    I will call the infringement guy to discuss but this matter has just put so much stress on me. I feel like council has no idea that people can not understand the entire planning and environment act and local planning schemes.

    The guy who referred the matter to infringement verbally said to me he understands how I feel about the matter and he would be fighting the fine too!  can you believe that?

    i'm going to request a meeting with council. I've already offered to the first guy to plant more trees but he told me to speak to the infringement guy regarding that because he was the only one that could rule on whether to fine me or not.

    VCAT fees are $237 and i'm guessing i would have to pay that per infringement (by the way, are they meant to send each of us a fine?) and it just seems so unfair that I will have to spend this money when I have done everything right.

    Council also conceded to me that if i had applied for this tree removal prior to the slab going down they would not have had an issue with this tree being removed. I also need to call my building surveyor about his thoughts on why he approved the building permit if council was going to rule the building has infringed on the laws by destroying the tree.

    Can anyone advise on how VCAT would view this type of application? Anyone with experience.

    I know this sounds more complicated than it should for something so simple but I am really searching for any advice possible. any PM's if you have any knowledge in this area at all would be greatly appreciated.

    I hope I can resolve this soon as it is causing undue stess on me more so than i would've thought such a matter would. The council takes nothing into account other than their planning documents – they seem to  have forgotten that they are there to represent the municipality and that logic should sometimes prevail. It just seems like money-grabbing to me, especially because the planning guy has told me they would've had no problem approving the permit and that he would be disputing paying the fine too!!!!!!

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