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By Peter Douglas

Yarra Ranges councillor Fiona McAllister has defended concerns over the shire’s procedures in relation to the identification and removal of dangerous trees.
At its Tuesday 13 June meeting, council voted against two Arborist Assessment Reports, which had recommended no action because the trees were considered to be healthy and structurally sound.
These cases were at Selby and at Lilydale, with the former causing considerable concern to the family involved.
However, Cr McAllister said these instances also showed there was scope to make “broader-based decisions” and were not indicative of a flawed system.
“I think we have a process that allows these decisions to come to the chamber and for us to make broader-based decisions,” Cr McAllister said.
“But we have very highly qualified staff who give us good advice and do reference us to people.
“And on the odd occasion when they don’t – and I think of the volume of trees they assess on a regular basis – I think we have provisions for them to come through the chamber.”
Before her comments, Cr McAllister had taken “umbrage” over remarks from Cr Mike Clarke, who said ‘people’ weren’t being given enough consideration regarding tree-removal decisions.
Cr McAllister said she had faith in council processes and that staff are following policy correctly.
“I just wanted to raise that I think we have clear policy direction for the staff, if there are issues around our risk tolerance,” she said.
“It’s not fair to actually put it back on staff, saying that they should weigh up risks, when in fact what they’re actually doing is following policy.
“I think we have an incredibly professional team of arborists and that was acknowledged by our presenters tonight.”
Cr Clarke said he had seen the “frightening” photos of the Selby incident and that it was a “black and white” case where the remaining sister tree needed removal.

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