We appeared at the Planning Panel earlier this year to support the Frankston City Council implement Planning Scheme Amendment C63 to protect more than 300 trees and groups of trees across the city with Environmental Significance Overlays (ESOs). The ESO fits closely with the Trust’s strategy of ensuring statutory protection for significant trees, as well as the recognition of local significance.
Of particular interest was the Moreton Bay Fig at 138 Cranbourne Road, even though it is not included on the National Trust’s Significant Tree Register. The tree is the only Moreton Bay Fig included in the study. This tree is significant because of its outstanding size and it is an important landmark in the local landscape. It is more than 24m high, and recorded as being in good condition. Thanks to Amendment C63, the Moreton Bay Fig tree is now protected by ESO4 in the planning scheme.
The 10/30 bushfire rule being relied upon for removal of the tree is clearly a loophole for tree removal in the urban setting of this part of the City of Frankston. We note the Council has asked the Planning Minister to review the blanket application of the clause 52.48 bushfire provision across the municipality, and we support that call.
The Trust has recently made a submission to DSE on the unforeseen consequences of bushfire clause 52:48 in Berwick, where a loophole allowed clearance of a row of more than 20 mature spotted gums. The bushfire regulation is clearly important in protecting homes and lives in regional and rural areas, but we question its applicability in downtown Frankston, and the unfortunate use of it to circumvent tree protection controls.