ON 24 MAY 2007, the NSW Land and Environment Court delivered Barker v Kyriakides  NSWLEC 292 (24 May 2007).
This decision concerned an application for tree removal orders under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.
The first element of the application concerned a number of small trees near the the common boundary between Mr and Mrs Barker and Mr Kyriakides. The Barkers were concerned about the proximity of the trees to a council sewer main that ran along the boundary.
The second element concerned a large Eucalypt tree straddling the Barker’s common boundary with Mr and Mrs Southern. The trees caused small deadwood and leaves to fall into the Barkers’ gutters and clothes line area. The Barkers were concerned about the cost of employing someone to clean the gutters given their advanced years.
On both matters, the court was not satisfied that the trees had caused or were likely in the future to cause damage.
The court stated the following principle to be applied in such cases:
“For people who live in urban environments, it is appropriate to expect that some degree of house exterior and grounds maintenance will be required in order to appreciate and retain the aesthetic and environmental benefits of having trees in such an urban environment. In particular, it is reasonable to expect people living in such an environment might need to clean the gutters and the surrounds of their houses on a regular basis.
The dropping of leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds or small elements of deadwood by urban trees ordinarily will not provide the basis for ordering removal of or intervention with an urban tree.”
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