The Opposition will put their support behind a proposal that will see city streets flourish, becoming greener in areas where there’s been a gradual loss of tree canopy cover in recent decades.
The Liberals are now calling on the Malinauskas Labor Government to follow suit, especially given their axing of almost $70 million worth of environmental initiatives - including city tree planting programs - in this year’s State Budget.
The trial, which will be rolled out in the City of Unley before potentially being adopted by other councils, will require new developments in the area to have 15% tree canopy cover.
Those who develop properties that then don’t meet the 15% target will be required to pay an additional 10% of their annual rates until it’s achieved. These payments will go into a fund and used by the council to plant additional trees on public land or to purchase land for trees to be planted on.
The City of Unley initiative will apply to ratepayers who lodge a development application where the building footprint increases – such as two or more dwellings on one allotment or if an extension, swimming pool or garage is added.
There will be exemptions for existing units and townhouses where 15% tree canopy cover is not achievable.
The proposal expands on the Urban Tree Canopy Off-Set Scheme which was introduced by the formal Liberal Government.
Shadow Minister for Planning Michelle Lensink said the Liberals have a proud history when it comes to creating a greener CBD.
“The former Liberal Government established the ‘Greener Neighbourhoods’ program, to help keep our streets green and cool by planting more trees. In the first few years, this initiative added almost 10,000 trees to Adelaide’s streets, parks and open spaces,” said Ms Lensink.
“But in the same week Peter Malinauskas declared a climate emergency, his hypocritical government took a match to this program and burned it to the ground.
“The very least they can do to try and save face is support this City of Unley initiative.
“The largest loss of trees in the Unley Council area has actually occurred on private property, largely through home extensions and minor developments.
“This is an innovative way to encourage more tree canopy in the inner suburbs.”
Member for Unley David Pisoni said the proposal will help the City of Unley reach its goal of 31% tree canopy cover by 2045.
The council will need an additional 14,000 trees to be planted to reach this target, with only so many trees being able to be planted on council verges and other public areas.
“The City of Unley has the lowest public open space in greater Adelaide, so it’s important that residents are encouraged to do their bit,” said Mr Pisoni.
“The Liberal Party looks forward to supporting this proposal to help create a greener Adelaide.
“I now encourage the Minister for Planning Nick Champion to exercise his powers under the Act to allow this initiative to spring to life.
“The Malinauskas Labor Government has all but destroyed their reputation when it comes to the environment by slashing $70 million worth of practical environmental initiatives.
“With the flick of a pen they can show they’re prepared to do some good in the environment space, rather than the gesture politics and virtue signalling we’ve seen so far.”
Once 15% tree canopy cover is achieved on a property, the payments cease.
The proposal also has the support of the Prospect, Walkerville, Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, Campbelltown and Burnside councils, which may implement the scheme in their own council areas following the Unley trial.