Since the introduction of the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act a few short years ago, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has been overwhelmed by applications being made by home owners to require the reduction or removal of trees on adjoining properties. More often than not, these applications have been made because trees were causing damage to property, creating a nuisance (by dropping leaves and the like) or obscuring a view.
Where the dispute concerns preservation of a view, as a general rule, QCAT will only order removal or pruning of a tree where it has grown so much since the neighbour acquired their property that a previous view has been lost. And the significance of a view is not lost on QCAT Members, particularly from the point of view from preserving a property’s value and sale ability.
Recently, a QCAT Member, Dr Bridget Cullen, was called upon to adjudicate a somewhat unusual dispute between some Caloundra residents. Amongst the trees in issue was a clump of Buddha Bamboo which, the applicant said, obstructed his view of the sky and surrounds. Apart from a starry sky, it was not suggested that the bamboo was causing any damage to property, was creating a nuisance or obscuring a panorama of any kind.
In refusing the application, Member Cullen thought that a view of the sky was not something which was capable of being protected by the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act as the view that was being sought to be preserved was in no way “iconic”.
And while others may not share my view, I have to admit to being somewhat pleased that the applicant in this case was unsuccessful. After all, aren’t trees and a bit of vegetation themselves an outlook worthy of protection?
Schultz Toomey O’Brien
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958
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