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March 7, 2022

Politicians vow to fight for Frome Road trees

Independent, Greens and Labor politicians this week pledged to save a pair of century-old London Plane trees located near Lot Fourteen on one of the CBD's leafiest streets.

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  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

Last month, CityMag reported Renewal SA planned to chop down two trees on Frome Road to allow safe passage for trucks entering the North Terrace innovation precinct Lot Fourteen.

On ABC Radio Monday morning, politicians from all stripes weighed in on how they would protect the trees.

Labor candidate for Adelaide, Lucy Hood, said she would seek to save the trees if elected at this month’s state election.

“You’ve got to be sitting at the table,” she said.

“You’ve got to be talking to the people that have the answers and I can tell you that I will be advocating to save these trees.”

Hood did not answer CityMag‘s questions before deadline about how she planned to advocate for the trees.

Former Adelaide city councillor and Greens MLC Robert Simms said he would push for tougher laws to protect significant trees from being felled.


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“It was a few years ago now that we saw those beautiful elm trees being cut down outside the front of Lot Fourteen and now this is another lot of trees that are on the chopping block,” he said.

“They’re not going to make it through this term of the city council by the sounds of it, unless the council shows some leadership on this.

“It shouldn’t just be left to the council.

“We need to have some legislation in place that protects significant trees like this.”

Simms clarified to CityMag his proposed legislation would include giving the local community “appeal rights” so they could provide feedback for upcoming tree removals.

Former Liberal MP turned independent candidate for Waite Sam Duluk said he introduced a bill last November aiming to establish an Exceptional Tree Register in South Australia – and if re-elected would advance the legislation again.

If passed, the register would record information on significant trees and strengthen legal protections from them being axed.

“We don’t have the right protection, legislative protection, for exceptional trees and these are clearly exceptional trees,” he said.

“Last parliament I introduced the exceptional tree legislation, which is still sitting on the notice paper, and it will be introduced into the next parliament to really ensure that we map – not just in the City of Adelaide, but right across South Australia – exceptional trees, and to put in the right protections… so they don’t get felled by the behest of a developer, or in this case, the government.”

London plane trees are an exempt species under South Australia’s Planning Development and Infrastructure Act, meaning they are not formally considered significant.

The gate seven London plane tree due to be removed


The gate nine London plane tree (middle) due to be removed

CityMag asked Liberal member for Adelaide Rachel Sanderson for her views, but she referred our questions to Renewal SA.

Renewal SA did not respond to CityMag‘s questions regarding whether other options had been investigated instead of removing trees and what they will do if the Adelaide City Council votes against their removal.

They instead referred us to the office of Lot Fourteen, as this project sits under the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

A spokesperson said the decision to remove the trees is pending with the City of Adelaide.

“All alternatives and consultant feasibility studies are being reviewed with City of Adelaide,” they said.

“The location of two London Plane trees on Frome Road are considered a safety risk due to the impact on visibility and obstruction of views for pedestrians and cyclists using the road and surrounding spaces.

“The trees have been suggested for removal as part of the long-term district-wide traffic strategy on the recommendation of consultants Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec after considering several alternatives to minimise impact on North Terrace and Frome Road, and negate tree removal.”

The Kadaltilla / Park Lands Authority will discuss the item on 24 March and present their recommendations to the Adelaide City Council, which will vote on the matter on 12 April.

A week ago, two dozen environmentalists, conservationists and members of the public protested against the proposal.

At the demonstration, representatives from the local branch of the Greens party and grassroots environmental organisation Save Our Trees publicly spoke about the council previously chopping down 11 century-old trees on North Terrace in 2019 to make room for Lot Fourteen.

Speakers urged members of the public to email Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor directly with their concerns about the two trees.

Adelaide City Council elected member Keiran Snape – also a Greens affiliate who helped organise the protest – said he hoped other councillors would “reject” Renewal SA’s request when voting on the matter.

For more Adelaide City Council news, click here.

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