Residents who have unsuccessfully applied to remove a tree or clear vegetation may soon be able to seek a review through Council – for a fee.
Currently, the only determination review option under the Vegetation SEPP is for applicants to appeal against a refusal to the Land and Environment Court – a lengthy and expensive exercise for all parties.
The proposed alternative review process aims to strengthen procedural fairness and is not dissimilar to the review process available to applicants for development applications, Council says.
But Jamisontown resident Robert Simpson, who came to loggerheads with Council when it refused to allow him to rip out two trees he planted, labelled the review fees – $175 for a tree removal/pruning application and $350 for a vegetation clearing application – a blatant cash grab.
“All they are doing is ripping more money off you,” he said.
“They’re still going to knock it back because at the end of the day they’re absolutely bloody minded.”
Mr Simpson requested a review of his determination late last year, which he said Council provided for free, but the outcome was the same.
He has since been given the green light to remove one of the trees, which was lifting up his driveway, but only after he wrote to Councillors who intervened.
Penrith Council said the proposed fees are subsidised and needed to ensure requests to review determinations are legitimate and not just because an applicant is simply dissatisfied with the original determination.
Mr Simpson suggested Council take a leaf out of Liverpool Council’s book and bring refused applications back before Councillors for review.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.