Adjoining owners on Yeronga’s Brisbane Corso have waged battle over the fate of four giant eucalyptus said to be responsible for unreasonable quantities of leaf litter falling into a swimming pool and causing other nuisances.

Patricia Tighe moved to the waterfront location from country acreage without appreciation, she said, that gums could pose the maintenance problems she faced.

The canopy of the 30 m high tree closest to her pool overhung the boundary by about five meters.

It shed leaves, flowers, twigs and buds that stained tiles, compromised pool water quality and caused internal water penetration due to roof guttering blockages.

Professor Cordia Chu owned the offending trees on her similarly luxurious, pontooned, riverfront block.

But rather than the “formal landscaped grounds” enjoyed by Tighe, hers were landscaped with “extensive natural vegetation over more than half the block” including the four 60-80 year old gums.

Tighe claimed the litter represented “a substantial and ongoing unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of her land” and applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a tree removal order.

She later amended her claim to seek pruning only but also sought $22k for pool filter repairs, installation of leafguard guttering systems and ongoing removal of debris from her garden.

The BCC – who has jurisdiction within its “waterway protection corridor” and can issue permits for tree trimming – did not consider “debris to be causing serious damage that cannot be reasonably managed”.

That opinion was endorsed by arborist Jan Allen – appointed by the tribunal – who added that tiles of a “more practical” darker colour and a pool cover would “adequately reduce” Ms Tighe’s difficulties.

When it came before QCAT, senior member David Paratz agreed that “the debris from the trees is substantial and causes significant maintenance”.

On the other hand, he noted, “they made a significant contribution to biodiversity by providing food and habitat for native wildlife”.

He also observed that the trees were fully mature when Tighe acquired the block 10 years earlier and the droppings dilemma already apparent before she dug up the old pool and built a new swimming pool and hardscaping.

“By buying a property adjacent to another with large existing trees, a buyer assumes the ordinary and natural consequences of their litter,” he reasoned.

Noting there was no evidence as to why Tighe didn’t use a pool cover Judge Paratz ruled that if it was “for aesthetic reasons, the extra maintenance that results from that choice is of her own making”.

In the absence of any risk to property or person – adjudged to be “sufficiently low to be regarded as broadly acceptable” – there was no other reason for making an order.

Judge Paratz refused the application.“The leaf litter is not unreasonable in its volume nor unexpected in an urban environment”.

Compensation for ameliorating the effects of the tree droppings was also refused.

Tighe v Schak & Anor [2015] QCAT 387 Member Paratz 23/09/2015


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