Hockley, Karen

Mrs Karen Hockley

Position Elected Member Craigburn Ward
Ward Craigburn Ward
Suburbs Craigburn Ward encompasses the suburbs of Craigburn Farm, Eden Hills, Bellevue Heights and parts of Blackwood, Coromandel Valley and Belair.
Address PO Box 21
Mitcham Shopping Centre
Contact Details Mobile: 0423 919 080
Fax: 8372 8101
Email: khockley@mitchamcouncil.sa.gov.au
Term Dates From 12/11/2018

April 2018

The City of Mitcham is well known and loved for its trees and tree canopy. The value we place on trees is not only dependent on their size and type, other factors, such as to how much wildlife they attract, how much shade they provide and their location also seem to be important. People building new homes for themselves will often design their home with the protection and preservation of existing trees in mind. 

However there have been times when people who would usually place a high value on trees have called to ask for my help in having a large verge tree or a tree protected under the Planning Act removed. Often they cite the danger of falling limbs or the workload of gutter cleaning, which may have been manageable when they bought the property 20 years ago, but is not so manageable now that they’re into their 60’s. 

Trees are a ‘social good’, they provide benefit to the whole community, even when they are ‘owned’ by an individual  However the cost of providing the benefit may fall disproportionately on those who have the tree in or near their garden.  How, as a community, can we support those who own or otherwise have the burden of trees that we all value? 

It seems that some who purchase property in the hills for subdivision don’t seem to value trees in the same way. I hear stories about those wanting to develop properties using the state regulations to remove all of the trees in preparation for subdivision. These regulations allow for any tree within 20 metres of a residential dwelling, in a high fire danger area, to be removed. In these circumstances the owner may consider that the value lost by removing the trees is somewhat less than the perceived increased value of the cleared land. How can we, as a community, incentivise the retention of tree canopy in these circumstances? 

Current regulations are designed to minimise the risk to houses in the case of a bushfire in high fire danger areas. However this means that there are very limited protections for trees. The only protection in these areas is provided by Council as a result of their ownership of street and reserve trees and by the Planning Act in very limited circumstances.

Council’s tree strategy, to plant more trees to arrest the decline in our tree canopy is a welcome intervention but it will not stop the loss of trees on private land. 

While we still have a high level of tree canopy coverage, particularly in the hills (around 40%), that may not be the case forever. Can we and should we have state regulations that give better protection to our trees while also minimising the risks in the event of a bushfire and allowing for appropriate development? 

I’d love to hear your view about our trees and tree canopy and on Council issues generally. Please give me a call on 0423 919 080 or email me on khockley@mitchamcouncil.sa.gov.au.

Contact Us

Tel 08 8372 8888

Fax 08 8372 8101

Email Us

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Locate Us

PO Box 21

Mitcham Shopping Centre

Torrens Park SA 5062

131 Belair Road

Torrens Park SA 5062


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