Tree Safety in the CBD – Question on Notice Update

By February 3, 2019News

In the evening of 2 February a large tree fell onto York Street in the CBD injuring a pedestrian. Fortunately the individual avoided major injury. The safety of residents, workers and visitors to our wonderful city is of the utmost importance.

For our Council meeting on 11 February I asked some Questions on Notice in relation to tree health assessments throughout the local government area. Below are both my questions as well as the Lord Mayor’s responses. I’ve also provided a link to the original Sydney Morning Herald Story.

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD ARTICLE

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Trees in the CBD

By Councillor Forster

Question

On Saturday 2 February 2019, at approximately 6.15pm, a tree weighing thousands of kilograms located on the corner of York and Margaret Streets in the CBD fell across York Street, injuring one person. News reports suggest experts assessed the tree an hour before it fell after reports that the tree started to lean over. Furthermore, it was reported that at 5.45pm, the City of Sydney’s Urban Forest Manager ordered the tree’s immediate removal, however, the tree fell before equipment for its removal had arrived. Google Street View images dated July 2017 show the tree leaning substantially.

1. Prior to the brief assessment made just prior to its fall, when was the tree last properly assessed?

2. What was the result of this assessment?

3. How often are significant trees located within the CBD assessed?

4. What measures are taken if an adverse assessment is made of any tree within the CBD?

5. Are there any other trees located within the CBD that require immediate attention or removal?

6. What are the liability issues for the City if a person or people are injured or killed as a result of tree failure?

Answer by the Lord Mayor

High risk trees are always removed by the City. Responses to parts 1 to 5 were provided via CEO Update on 8 February 2019. If the City has accepted liability for a tree failure and this has resulted in an injury to or death of any person, then the potential monetary exposure for the City for any claim of compensation made by a third party will be covered by the City’s Public and Products
Liability policy, subject to the policy terms and conditions. The amount for which the City would be liable under this policy is:

(a) The full claim amount, if the claim does not exceed AUD $100,000;

OR

(b) AUD $100,000, if the claim is between AUD $100,000 to AUD $10,000,000 (the limit of indemnity)

Should the legal liability of the City be greater than the limit of indemnity (AUD $10,000,000), then the City’s Excess Public and Products Liability policy will be triggered. In this event, the City will bear (in addition to the AUD $100,000 deductible), the cost of an additional policy deductible of AUD $10,000,000. This will cover any claim up to and including AUD $90,000,000.