Sunday, July 29, 2018

Trees and houses we need but Roundup we don't

We have another Ordinary Meeting for the Upper Hunter Shire Council coming up tomorrow night (30 July 2018), and I just want to mention that at the last Ordinary Council Meeting (25 June 2018), I moved three motions: two were carried, one was not even seconded so therefore lapsed.

1. Tree Presevation and Management Policy
In a moment of pragmatism I agreed to a suggested amendment to my original motion, and so moved:
That Council update Part 11a (Tree Preservation) of the Upper Hunter Development Control Plan 2015 having regard to the provisions of State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Area) 2017, and to require 'Council Approvalfor the removal and pruning of certain native and non-native vegetation within the Upper Hunter Shire LGA. The update shall consider the following matters:
a) best global ecological practice;
b) adherence to Australian Standards for amenity and rural tree planting;
c) consultation with council's qualified arborist or another qualified arborist on all occasions involving Upper Hunter Shire tree preservation and management;
d) appropriate tree planting and tree replacement action that takes into account Australia's growing dry and drought-like constratints and conditions.

There is no excuse for the unsightly topping of our trees by electricity providers (and/or their commercial pruners) and others so common in the Upper Hunter Shire. The irony is that all too often this ignorant pruning results in faster re-growth with the costs being passed onto shire residents and ratepayers by loss of amenity, environmental services and earlier planting and replacement costs.

Tree preservation and tree managment need to be done by skilled workers directed with clear commitment by electricity providers (and/or their commercial pruners) to prune according to the Australina Standard 4373/2007 'pruning of amenity trees', and the Upper Hunter Shire community is disappointed that whilst we have a standard laying out exactly how pruning should be done, everywhere we look after distressing tree pruning events we see poorly pruned trees.

But this issue also goes beyond just inept pruning because there also seems to be a general loss of more complex pruning skills for all shurbs, fruit trees and other trees compounded by the lack of consideration for the right tree for the right space.

This ignorance which is translating into community 'vandalism'  has to stop.

As we have all discussed before both at Sutainability Advisory Services committee meetings and council meetings, it is time for the Upper Hunter Shire Council to adopt a proper comprehensive tree preservation and tree managment policy, and to remind tree workers and / or tree contractors, whether pruning for themselves or any entity in our shire, that they must demonstrate they have the skills to prune according to AS4373/2007. The Upper Hunter Shire Council needs a clear vision for the preservation and management of our trees for us all here today for future generations.

Moved, seconded, carried ✔

2. Affordable Housing Scheme
I then moved the following amended motion in two parts:
1. That Council, subject to available funding, prepare an affordable housing background report on housing needs and issues in the uppter Hunter Shire LGA including research and analysis of the housing market and housing affordability. The background report shall consider a range of strategies to address any recommendations for Council's consideration should it proceed to the develpment of an Affordable Housing Strategy.
2. That Council prepare a report on Passivhaus construction principles including recommendations on how this method of construction can be promoted across the Upper Hunter Shire LGA.

We have a shortage of affordable social housing yet a responsibility to ensure everyone who lives in the Upper Hunter Shire has a safe and long term housing option to call home so that everyone can get on with their lives without the pervasive worry of not having a permanent home. Many mental health experts both nationally and internationally propound the importance of social housing because without a safe long-term home it is impossible to combat the dire mental health issues that face Australian communities and in particular its rural ones.

Moved, seconded, carried ✔

3. Shire Ban of Monsanto's Roundup (Glyphosate Formulations)
I moved:
That Council ban Monsanto's widely-used Roundup from usage across the Upper Hunter Shire after the US' National Toxic Program's (NTP) recent uncovering of evidence that some popular weedkilling products such as Roundup are potentially more toxic to human cells than their active ingredient is by itself.

Unfortunately the motion was not seconded and so lapsed meaning that I didn't get a chance to to talk to the motion. 

If I had I would have said that given that a summary of the NTP stated that glyphosate formulations decreased human cell 'viability', disrupting cell membranes, it can only be condsidered to unconscionably irresponsible if we continue to use Roundup in our quest to combat weeds. I would have gone on to say that The Guardian states that:
"The NTP work informs a global debate over whether or not these glyposate-based weedkilling chemical combinations are endangering people who are exposed. More than 4,000 people are currently suing Monsanto alleging they developed cancer from using Roundup, and several European countries are moving to limit the use of these herbicides."
Then I would have mentioned that Jennifer Sass, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council said that "this testing is important, because the EPA has only been looking at the active ingredient. But it's the formuations that people are exposed to on their lawns and gardnes, where they play and in their food."

And I would have concluded that we have this information of Roundup, it comes from a reputable source, so the case for Roundup is demonstrably weak and so to continue using it in our weed minimisation regime can only be considered irresponsible.


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