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Tree ruling comes as cyclone hovers

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As Cyclone Jasper hovers ominously in the Coral Sea, a tree-removal order may have come too late for a Townsville couple.

North Ward residents Garry and Belinda Waddell applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to have a neighbour remove a troublesome tree on their common boundary, and last month QCAT found in the couple’s favour.

The Waddells claimed the eight-metre-high African Tulip tree had caused, and was causing, a range of problems for them, including when it fell during Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

“They say, and I accept, in the event of another cyclone or other extreme weather event, there is a risk of the tree falling again,” Member Stilgoe said.

“The Waddells say that the tree has twice broken their television antenna and crushed their guttering. They say that the tree prevents grass growing on that side of their property. The tree also creates significant shade which leads to internal mould, prevents solar panels being installed and blocks their view of Castle Hill.”

Member Stilgoe said the damage done to the Waddells’ property was “considerable”.

She said the couple had tried to cut the tree back over the past five years but it was now too large for them to control. She noted the tree was also a category three restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014 (Qld).

She said the neighbour “did not have an interest in trimming or removing the tree to alleviate the Waddells’ concerns”, nor did they file a defence in QCAT.

Under the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 (Qld), Member Stilgoe ordered the neighbour to have the tree removed by a qualified and insured tree lopper, under the supervision of a qualified arborist, by 22 March 2024.

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