THE Environment Minister has admitted that current tree protection proposals are ‘much too tightly drawn’ and has stressed they will be ‘significantly changed’.
Deputy Jonathan Renouf said he wanted any legislation to ‘enable most routine tree work’ to be able to continue without needing planning permission.
Under current policies – which are out for consultation – any work on trees with a trunk greater than the width of a Pringles tube would require planning permission, and it could take the Planning Department 28 days to rule on the application.
One tree surgeon said he was receiving around two calls a day to cut trees down and that his company had been ‘much busier’ recently. Joël Freire, of Tree Matters, said he had noticed a ‘dramatic knee-jerk reaction from clients with a lot of land and trees contemplating complete removal rather than maintaining them as a result of this draconian law being discussed’.
Following criticism of the policies during the consultation, Deputy Renouf said he wanted to change the definition of ‘routine tree maintenance’ and review the list of exceptions, which would include managing the appearance of trees and safety concerns.
He has extended the public consultation on the government’s proposed tree protection process, which had been due to conclude this weekend, until 7 May.
Deputy Renouf said: ‘We have to get those guidelines right and we haven’t got them right.
‘We’ve drawn too tightly the guidelines of what constitutes routine maintenance. Currently too much work will not count as routine maintenance work. That will be changed.’
Deputy Renouf added: ‘I’d like to reassure those who are concerned about the proposals that I do aim for the policy to enable most routine tree work to continue as before, without the need for planning permission.
‘Following feedback from tree surgeons and those working in the industry, I have extended the consultation on tree protection processes by another two weeks to ensure everyone has the opportunity to share their views and suggestions.’
As part of the ongoing consultation, Deputy Renouf has said that he is requesting Islanders’ views on what should be defined as ‘routine tree management’ which would not require planning permission.
‘I am keen to hear more views on how we might define “routine tree management” and I do acknowledge that the proposals for exceptions which are currently listed are too narrow. Please be reassured that this is not the final exhaustive list. The consultation seeks feedback on this, and the list of exceptions will undoubtedly be revised once we have been able to review all the responses,’ said the Environment Minister.
He added that, in general, trees in more built-up areas were more valuable than those in the countryside, because there were fewer of them.
‘We will look at different policies for trees in built-up areas versus trees in the countryside,’ he said.
Last year, the States Assembly approved plans to include work on trees under the definition of development within Jersey’s Planning and Building Law.
According to the government, when the revised law is implemented, some operations to trees will require permission before they can proceed. A list of exceptions will specify which operations can go ahead without planning permission.
The consultation can be accessed at gov.je/Government/Consultations/Pages/TreeProtectionProcess.aspx.