Justification for Cutting Tree Just Doesn’t Cut It (Treegate 3)

The justifications given to chop down an Anzac Memorial tree really aren’t good enough, nor is the advice from the AMACC!

AMACC Letter of Support
AMACC Letter of Support (click image for pdf version)

After the initial uproar received from the public about our original report of David Dwyer on behalf of AMACC accepting a $20,000 donation, for permission to cut down a Anzac Memorial Tree (conditional to the Development Application approval of a new service station), we decided to put together more information we thought you may also be interested in.

Now there is a bit of information, from a number of sources; which we have done our best to explain their significance. However it is quite long. So first off we will provide an ‘Executive Summary’ so you can get the summary of the information, and drill down to the bits you want to read more detail about.

Also for your interest, all of the source information is publically available, with all sources listed at the bottom of the article.

Executive Summary

  1. Dean Teasdale on his Facebook page, as well as the Developer in their Development Application, claimed that ‘Slash Pines’ (which is the tree type of the most mature tree of the two), were not part of the original plantings. We cite references that actually ‘Slash Pines’ were indeed used early in the plantings, if not in the original batch.
  2. The Developer’s Application also tries to convince the Council that because Slash Pines have already been cut down before, they should be allowed to cut down more; plus believe with each tree destroyed makes the remaining mature memorial trees lose significance. This is all despite their Arborist report reporting the Slash Pine as being in fair health; and can indeed be worked around.
  3. The council initially rejected the request to cut the trees, telling the developer to work around them.
  4. The developer responded repeating the same argument as before, but with the ‘advice’ from the AMACC this time. Yet when you look at the letter, there is no real advice included; and the Developer basically says it is too hard to work around the trees. Check out the actual letter contents of Dwyer accepting the $20,000 in that section too.
  5. The Council accepts the Developer’s application. Though conditionally to EHP/SARA (aka QueenslandState Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) approval.
  6. The EHP/SARA guidelines stipulate that there needs to be a public consultation. Will the developers claim their “consultation” with AMACC is enough? We think not.

Come on EHO/SARA. It looks like you are our only hope now!


1. Are Slash Pines Significant?

We’ll start with a statement(1) posted on Facebook by Dean Teasdale, a community advocate who originally came to our attention whilst running as a candidate for the position of Mayor for the Moreton Bay Regional Council. The small amount which is of interest (towards the bottom), is as quoted:

“From the original heritage citation which includes the original planting species list does not include Slash Pines within the original species planting list. The applicant contends that the tree may be a subsequent planting that did not form part of the original plantings.”

What this refers to, is a list of species taken from the book The Story of ANZAC Memorial Avenue(2) which was researched and written by Merv Ewart and Pat Fairhall, and published by the Pine Rivers Shire Council in 1993. As quoted from the book, the list of trees is as follows:

Native Trees

Brachychiton acerifolius – Flame Tree; Castanospernum australe – Moreton Bay Chestnut, or Black Bean; Lysiphyllum hookeri – Native Bauhinia; Flindersia australis – Crow’s Ash; Eucalyptus tessellaris – Moreton Bay Ash; Eucalyptus creba – Narrow-leaved Ironbark; Eucalyptus siderophloia – Broad-leaved Ironbark; Eucalyptus staigeriana – Lemon-scented Ironbark; Eucalyptus pilularis – Blackbutt; Eucalyptus citriodora – Lemon-scented Spotted Gum; Eucalyptus saligna – Sydney Blue Gum; Picas hillii – Hill’s Weeping Fig; Ficus virens (syn. F.infectoria, F.cunninghamii) – White Fig; Araucaria cunninghamii – Hoop Pine; Lophostemon confertus (syn. Tristania conferta) – Brisbane Box or Brush Box.

Exotic Trees

Jacaranda mimosaefolia – Jacaranda; Cedrela odorata – West Indian Red Cedar; Caesalpinia ferrea – Leopard Tree; Eyrthrina ovaifolia – Coral Tree; Delonix regia – Poinciana; Celtis australis – Portugese Elm; Arecastrum romanzoffianum (syn. Cocos plumosd) – Queen Palm.”

As you will note: Pinus elliottii which is commonly known as “Slash Pine” is not included in this list and therefore some people may think it is not one of the original tree varieties planted during the construction of Anzac Memorial Avenue.

This contributed to the reasoning the developer gave when requesting permission to remove the tree. Additional reasoning the Developers gave included the condition of the tree; the fact it’s an exotic species; and listed by MBRC as being a weed; as well as stating that other trees of the same species had been removed from the adjoining block of land during the development of Hungry Jacks as mentioned here(4.1):

Similarly the three (3) other significant trees identified on the Heritage and landscape character overlay that were originally of the same size and species, have also been removed post 2009 (as also evident in 2009 Google imagery) and replaced with young trees of a different species as part of the recent Hungry Jacks development on the adjoining site to the east.”

However, here is a little history on Slash Pines in Queensland and their significance in the Kallangur section of Anzac Memorial Avenue, taken from the Queensland Heritage Register for “Place ID”: 602693(3):

Despite alterations, the idea of the road as a Memorial Avenue has been perpetuated by later plantings. While not all the trees are from the original planting list, they are an intrinsic component of the avenue’s overall composition. The Mango Hill section of the Avenue is notable for its 700 metre section of Mango trees (Magnifera indica). There is a substantial section of mature Slash Pines (Pinus eliottii) between Kippa Ring and Rothwell, plus smaller sections at Kallangur. The first Slash Pines in Queensland were grown in Beerwah and Beerburrum from 1924. Director of Forestry EHF Swain, who introduced the trees from the United States, was a member of the tree planting committee in 1925.”

Ok, so from this we can see that although the Slash Pine trees may not have been on the original planting list; but because they had been introduced to Queensland just a year prior to the planting of trees along the avenue, it is safe then to assume that the then Director of Forestry, (who was involved in the tree planting committee), had included segments of Slash Pines along the Memorial Avenue, as is noted in the quoted text above.

With this information and timing, it is actually highly likely that these Slash Pines were part of the original trees planted along the avenue during 1925.

Interestingly, the developer saw fit to include a PDF document containing a copy of all the information for the “Place ID” mentioned above. So while trying to advocate their case for the removal of the tree by using this information, they gave a case against their plight as well.

2. The Developer’s ‘Justification’

Alright now for some nitty gritty council development application text regarding the trees. We apologies if this is a little hard to follow, we will lay it out as best we can. For the most part we will only quote the “Justification for compliance” sections, which is the developer responding to Performance Outcomes and Acceptable Outcomes. If you want to dive a little deeper to read what the 2 latter components are, we will list all the documents to look at, and the relevant pages within those documents. Hopefully that will make this easy enough to follow.

We start off with Appendix 1 – MBRC Code Compliance Statement(4.1). This is a justification for compliance by the Developers, in response to Performance Outcome PO91. It’s a little bit of reading, but required to understand the rest of this article:

The Heritage and landscape character overlay identifies two significant trees of landscape significance on the Anzac Street frontage of the site.

As a new commercial crossover is proposed at the centre of the frontage (to replace the existing residential crossover), the mature ‘slash pine’ (Pinus elliotti) located at the eastern end of the frontage is proposed to be removed. With respect to the health of the tree, an Arboricultural Impact Assessment has been prepared by Independent Arboricultural Services (refer to the accompanying ‘Arboricultural Impact Assessment’ pdf).

The report observed that on inspection:

  • the tree is currently in fair health and its overall form is typical of its species;
  • removal of branch structure within the southern side of its canopy has previously occurred to achieve power line clearance;
  • broken and torn limbs were visible within the canopy;
  • dieback of some limbs is present;
  • root development is constrained by the road (Anzac Avenue) and the egress onto the property;
  • roots present above ground have sustained damage (likely scaping by mowers); and
  • the tree is mature in age.

The report also identified:

  • the presence of bitumen crossover surfacing within TPZ; and
  • change in ground levels from (higher) site grade level from the existing (lower) grade level at the road edge (Anzac Avenue).

It is also noted that whilst the report identifies that the tree is in fair health, the long term health of the tree will only be achieved through extensive civil works within the footpath verge on Anzac Avenue which includes bridging over the footpath. This is due to the shallow root zone of the tree being less than 600mm from the existing surface. The proposed bridging across the footpath coincides with the re-profiling of the footpath to include unimpeded disabled access via ramps. Such design solutions will significantly impact on the vehicle ingress and egress as well as pedestrian movements along Anzac Avenue for which the removal of the tree is required. Consequently, reference is made to Section of the Purpose – District centre precinct which states that the purpose of the code will be achieved through the overall outcomes for the precinct. In this instance overall outcome ‘r’ requires that:

Development avoids areas subject to constraint, limitation, or environmental value. Where development cannot avoid these identified areas, it responds by:

(vi) protecting and preserving the natural, aesthetic, architectural historic and cultural values of significant trees, places, objects and buildings of heritage and cultural significance;

Based on the above, the aesthetic and cultural value of the tree has been significantly diminished whilst its longevity will continue to be compromised as a result of its restricted area of growth due to the location infrastructure and services. The removal of the tree may coincide with compensatory planting elsewhere within the footpath verge in an area devoid of any structural impediments including power lines.

It noted that the other listed tree in front of the subject site in the Anzac Avenue street verge which was also ‘slash pine’ (Pinus elliotti) is similar in size. It must be noted that this tree has been removed post 2009 (as is evident in 2009 Google imagery) and replaced with a significantly smaller tree being a ‘crow’s ash’ (Flindersia australis). It is noted that this tree will be retained.

Similarly the three (3) other significant trees identified on the Heritage and landscape character overlay that were originally of the same size and species, have also been removed post 2009 (as also evident in 2009 Google imagery) and replaced with young trees of a different species as part of the recent Hungry Jacks development on the adjoining site to the east.

As such, the significance of the tree and the original boulevard has been eroded/diminished.”

Wow! Just, WOW! See that last line there? As such, the significance of the tree and the original boulevard has been eroded/diminished.”

In other words because other mature trees have already been cut down, they believe the remaining mature trees aren’t as significant anymore. . It really seems like this developer does not care about our ANZACs!! Chop em all down, hey?

Also note “the tree is currently in fair health and its overall form is typical of its species;”. As originally reported by the Arborist.

We will just add a little quote here which comes from the document(4.2) also produced by the Arborist “Independent Arboricultural Services”, and also submitted with the Development Application:

Measures to incorporate over-engineered, above ground design to minimise incursion within the RPA of T1 in particular, could have been employed so that proposed design and construction could meet the requirements under guidelines within AS 4970-2009 – Protection of trees on development sites. (Refer Plans, p.p. 22-32)”

In this quote the arborist talks about “T1” which is the Slash Pine. The Arborist is saying the development can be done with the tree still there.

Even the developer has drawn up alternative plans which allow for the tree to continue to exist! They are the developer’s “Plan 2” drawings which can be found in the Arborists report(4.3)and do indeed show that the types of vehicles that will need to access the service station under this plan can get in and out. So it is possible to have a service station and the tree too!

The developers "Plan 2"
The developers “Plan 2”

All it needs is extra work, and extra money spent. We think a fair few people might say this is money well spent, for the heritage significance of our memorial tree. What do you think?

3. Council’s Initial Response

Well, so far so good, this is what the MBRC wrote back regarding the removal of the tree(4.4):

In accordance with Performance Outcome PO91, the proposed removal of the existing heritage trees within the Anzac Avenue road reserve is not supported. The submitted arborist’s report states that the tree is in good health and practical measures (AS4970:2009) are available to ensure its on-going survival. Appropriate design solutions are required to ensure the proposed Service station can safely and effectively operate (inclusive of vehicle and pedestrian access to the site) with the retention of these trees within the road reserve. Ensure any amendments to the site layout will not impact upon the tree.”

That’s great news! In their initial response MBRC wanted to protect the Slash Pine…….. Or so it would seem.

4. The Developer’s Response

Well the developer does indeed respond to the Council’s request for additional information. Here is their response regarding the Slash Pine(4.5):

Item 5: Heritage & Landscape Character

In reference to the heritage trees, the Heritage Citation which accompanied the development application makes reference to several memorial plantings and other plantings along Anzac Avenue, which includes Slash Pines. However, upon further detailed investigation, it is important to highlight that the tree planting operations, which commenced in 1925 through the Anzac Memorial Tree Planting Committee, nominated a list of species to form part of the avenue linking Redcliffe and Kedron. This list is set out in the attached extract titled ‘The Story of Anzac Memorial Avenue’ which highlights the species of trees to be planted over several years. The heritage citation emphasises the importance of the tree planting project undertaken in the 1920s hence Council must have regard to the types of species which formed part of the project.

As documented in the citation, the majority of original trees planted have gradually been removed as a result of upgrades to the road which included extensive widening. Consequently, new plantings have been established which would include the existing Slash Pines along the frontage of the site. Such plantings provide no relationship to the original planting list (attached). Whilst it is documented in the citation that a small section of Slash Pines are located at Kallangur, their importance in maintaining the cultural significance of Anzac Avenue has been completely diminished given Council’s allowance for the removal of several trees to the immediate east.

For this reason, further advice has been obtained from the Anzac Avenue Centenary Committee with respect to the removal of the tree. As part of the letter of agreement, the owner has provided an undertaking to make a monetary contribution towards new projects that are currently being implemented by the committee. In addition to this, the road widening to Ferrier Street together with the improvements to the footpath verge on Anzac Avenue will provide an opportunity for new and more appropriate street tree planting. A condition of development should include plantings derived from the original Tree Planting List.

It is important to reiterate that based on the detailed representations contained in the original planning report, the civil works across the footpath verge on Anzac Avenue are constrained by the shallow root zone of the tree which would in fact require bridging. The issues associated with this will continue to be exacerbated by maintenance of existing infrastructure within the footpath verge, including overhead powerlines.”

And again, they started with pretty much arguing the point “If someone else has been allowed to cut down trees of significance, then why can’t we?” Basically, this is just the long winded version of what they said in the original application. Reiterating that the Slash Pines (Pinus elliottii) are not part of the original plantings, because they were not mentioned in the list of species which was drawn up before Slash Pines where even grown in the state.

However as we have already noted above, at the same time the actual planting of trees along Anzac Memorial Avenue began in 1925, the Slash Pines would also have been available and more than likely used during the initial planting of trees.

Plus in this response, they have noted for their argument:

  • That “further advice has been obtained from the Anzac Avenue Centenary Committee”. Have they really?See the letter below, showing what we believe is the “advice” David Dwyer has given?
  • The $20k is going “towards new projects that are currently being implemented by the committee” as part of the letter agreement. Will it really? Can you see that stipulated in the letter below?
  • And basically said, to look after the tree is too hard. Note this is the developer’s words. Not from anything that we can see from the AMACC.

So clearly, a letter from Anzac Memorial Avenue Centenary Committee(4.6), (with no actual advice), is all that’s needed to sway the MBRC into allowing you to chop down a tree of significance. Want to read the letter? Yeah, we knew you would:

Attn: Tony Smethurst
Procon Developments

Dear Tony,

Sorry to have taken so long to have forwarded this email to you.

We would like to accept your offer of a donation of $20,000 to AMACC upon receipt of DA approval, for compensation for the lossof the tree in the nature strip as discussed.

We also acknowledge that you will continue to push for a permanent closure of Ferrier Street and that the design will comply with light spill regulations to minimize nuisance to neighbouring properties.

We wish you all the best with your intended development.

David Dwyer
President – AMACC
0418 878 514”

Now, as we have mentioned in a previous article, the AMACC have not published any minutes for any meetings they have had since the 18th May 2015. So we have no idea where anything like this may have been discussed, and therefore we have no idea who agreed to this. The only name we see here is David Dwyer’s. Has he taken it upon himself to make this arrangement with the Developer without holding a General Meeting?

With the MBRC referring so many enquiries to the AMACC since it was created, has anyone at the MBRC stopped to check whether the AMACC is actually a properly functioning committee? The information on the AMACC website lists the apparent committee, but has that page been kept up to date? It’s impossible to tell without the meeting minutes being available to read.

Questions, questions, so many many questions.

5. Now the Council Approves – but conditionally

Alright, let’s move on. The MBRC has conditionally approved the Development Application, below is the advice given by the Queensland State Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection(4.7):

the preference is for the trees of cultural heritage significance to be protected, which may require developing an alternative to the current design.

  • Shifting the proposed driveway on Anzac Avenue further east; or
  • Providing mitigation planting between the new driveway and Ferrier Street to ensure the location is in keeping with the cultural heritage significance of Anzac Avenue, and continue to support a tree-lined avenue’.

In the event that mitigation planting is provided, this should be at least 1.5 trees (minimum 2) planted to mitigate the loss of a single tree that is of cultural heritage significance.

Prior to any works occurring, the applicant would be required to obtain a Concurrence Agency response from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (through SARA) for a Development Permit for Building Works on a Queensland Heritage Place.

Based on the above assessment and in order to preserve and protect the values of cultural significance that relate to the Anzac Memorial Avenue and the significance of the tree-lined avenue, it is recommended that compensatory plantings of a minimum of two semi-mature trees from the original approved species list for the memorial avenue be planted and maintained within the site. It is noted that the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection may require compensatory plantings within the road reserve through subsequent Operational Works or Building Works applications.”

In this instance, and as part of the conditional approval, the MBRC has allowed the developer to go with the second alternative to the current design. Which is to cut down the Slash Pine and compensate it by planting 2 new trees from the original species list(4.5):

(c) Submit an amended Landscape Concept Plan incorporating the following:

(i) Update the plan to reflect the current layout;
(ii) Show the location of the relocated feature arbor/trellis structure along the eastern boundary adjoining Anzac Avenue;
(iii) Show the location of a minimum of two semi-mature trees within the frontage landscaping on site to compensate of the mature tree within the Anzac Avenue road reserve (refer landscape condition for further details.”

As well as this stipulation(4.8):

..any future application where cultural heritage significance is likely to be destroyed or substantially reduced will require the applicant to present justification that there is ‘no prudent and feasible alternative’ to carrying out the development. For such an application, advice from the Queensland Heritage Council will be obtained by SARA (via EHP). Please note the requirements in the EHP guideline available online here: http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/assets/documents/land/heritage/gl-feasible-alternative.pdf”

So basically the council are asking them to find & show them two spots on the same frontage, to plant two replacement trees. How about we leave the existing two trees there, and go with “Plan 2” (that was provided in the Arborist report), of working around them, huh?

Plus their solution of replacing them with two new semi-mature trees, undoes majority of their argument for removing the existing and significantly more mature trees in the first place. Because the new trees will still cause the supposed “nuisance” in the future, eg for power lines, that the existing trees are doing now.

Instead the role of any “Anzac Memorial Avenue Committee”, should be how to look after existing, and future trees now, to ensure they are of little nuisance, but still cared for. Not neglected or destroyed like they are now.

6. More on the Conditional Part

The approval from the council is conditional that the developer’s still get approval from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, via the State Assessment & Referral Agency (SARA).

The EHP guideline referenced by the Council above, actually mentions a requirement for a public consultation process before any SARA approval can be considered for destroying a Memorial tree. The requirement includes(5):

Unless otherwise advised by the assessing authority, public engagement is required to assess the public benefit of the proposed development and its impact on the social significance of the Queensland Heritage Place. Social significance is an aspect of cultural heritage significance under the Queensland Heritage Act. Public engagement should involve:

  • setting up a process and timetable for dialogue about the proposed development with people and organisations with an interest in the heritage values of the place
  • identifying relevant people and organisations, informing them about the development proposal, and offering to engage them in discussion
  • sharing information and engaging in dialogue aimed at reaching a shared position
  • documenting the engagement process and recording community comment (this information should be included with the application). The assessing authority will also place a notice in the local newspaper of the area, inviting the community to comment on the proposal. Community comment will be considered by the assessing authority in its assessment of the development application.”

Will the developers hold this Public Consultation? Or will they try and argue that their consultation with AMACC covers this? If they try the latter, that’s bullshit! It is clear AMACC, (or is it all David Dwyer), does not represent the majority of public opinion. As the response from our original article shows.

So apparently as you can see, all you need is, to just get “advice” from AMACC, i.e “advice” of them accepting a $20,000 donation, to then be able to convince the Council that a mature significant tree, which is in “fair health”, is acceptable to be cut down, and to replaced anyway with a semi-mature tree; conditional on the approval by EHP/SARA.

Let’s hope EHP/SARA give better “advice” on taking care and protecting memorials, than what the Anzac Memorial Avenue Centenary Committee are capable of doing.

Resources and links:

  1. Dean Teasdale’s Facebook page. With reference to this article. Screen captures of the article available here.
  2. The Story of ANZAC Memorial Avenue
  3. Queensland Heritage Register. With reference to place ID 602693.
  4. Moreton Bay Regional Council – Planning and Development Online. With reference to V2L – 32172 / 2016 – Material Change of Use.
    1. File name: IDAS Application – Appendix 1 – MBRC Code Compliance Statement.pdf
      Page: 38
    2. File name: IDAS Application – Arboricultural Impact Assessment.pdf
      Page: 10
    3. File name: IDAS Application – Arboricultural Impact Assessment.pdf
      Page: 23
    4. File name: SIGNED_ DA_32172_2016_V2L Information Request – SPA.pdf
      Page: 2
    5. File name: Response to Information Request – Proposed MCU at 1-7 Ferrier Street, Kallangur (Ref: DA/32172/2016/V2L).msg .. This Outlook email file contains a number of file attachments, the one being referenced here is named “Letter – Response to Information Request – 1-7 Ferrier Street, Kallangur.pdf
      Pages: 3 – 4
    6. File name: Response to Information Request – Proposed MCU at 1-7 Ferrier Street, Kallangur (Ref: DA/32172/2016/V2L).msg .. This Outlook email file contains a number of file attachments, the one being referenced here is named “Letter of Support – Anzac Avenue Centenary Committee.pdf.  Click here to view PDF
    7. File name: SIGNED_ DA_32172_2016_V2L Delegated Report – Delegated Authority.pdf
      Pages: 27 – 29
    8. File name: SIGNED_ DA_32172_2016_V2L Decision Notice (Approval) – SPA.pdf
      Pages: 37
  5. No prudent and feasible alternative With reference to Page 2.

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