Silver Birch Close at Eight Mile Plains was the setting for the latest tree removal dispute, this time concerning eight metre high palms.Kevin Merrett filed his QCAT application after discussion with neighbour Stephen Turner failed to yield a satisfactory solution.

The application was on the grounds that the palms constituted a safety risk in cyclonic

weather and that they were infested with white ants.

Arborist Anthony Cockram inspected the site and reported that the four Alexandra palms and the Bangalow Palm were in good condition and because of their modest canopies were unlikely to topple even in extreme wind conditions.

Turner had already removed the single palm that was implicated in the white ant infestation and a tree fern – not the subject of the application – that was casting some shadow.

In such circumstances tribunal member professor Adrian Ashman concluded there was no likelihood of the remaining trees causing damage to land or property in the forthcoming 12 months.

But Merrett also alleged the palms obstructed sunlight to a substantial and unreasonable extent on an ongoing basis to his home.

He produced photographs and a “sunlight diagram” in support of his plea that tribunals should order the palms be trimmed to a maximum height of 2.5 m.

Prof Ashman accepted the palms did cast shadows over the patio during winter mornings, but the tribunal was not prepared to accept that they were either significant or unreasonable.

Neither was pruning was a solution as any topping of the palms was “tantamount to their destruction”.

Noting that “palm trees are in abundance on many residential blocks given Brisbane’s subtropical location” the claim for removal should be dismissed as “in no way could the shadows be considered as overwhelming or oppressive so as to justify the destruction of trees.”

This was especially so “given that the patio area is fully covered and that shading occurs for relatively short periods in the year”.

Merrett v Turner [2014] QCAT 569 Professor Ashman, Member published 28/11/2014


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