Ex-news anchor in gum tree dispute
FORMER news anchor Bill McDonald is embroiled in a bitter two-year dispute with a neighbour over a gum tree encroaching on his city views and the yard of his Windsor home in Brisbane's inner north.
Tree owner Tabitha Pendlebury first took out a vegetation protection order on the eucalyptus - estimated by an arborist to be up to 80 years old - in late 2016 but, following a string of appeals by Mr McDonald and wife Julianne, the issue has been escalated to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Ms Pendlebury said she believed the former co-anchor of Channel 7 News Brisbane was determined to have the tree torn down because it obstructed his view of the Brisbane skyline.
But Mr McDonald said his primary concern was the safety of his family, particularly his young son, as the branches hanging over his backyard could fall suddenly.
Records show Ms Pendlebury bought her property, which backs on to McDonald's, in May 2016 while Mr McDonald had settled on his home in October of the same year.
It is believed discussions between the parties about pruning or removing the tree began almost immediately after Mr McDonald moved in, prompting Ms Pendlebury to seek the protection order just months later.
"It's a native Australian tree. We have a responsibility to look after these things," Ms Pendlebury said.
"The tree was there when we each bought our properties, it's not like I am doing this maliciously, and it was probably there before either of us was born."
Mr McDonald said a falling 7m branch that narrowly missed his son playing in the yard below had prompted him to act.
"We have genuinely tried to resolve the issue with our neighbour amicably, but we were refused access to prune the tree at our own expense," Mr McDonald said.
Ms Pendlebury, who maintains Mr McDonald's efforts to have the tree removed began before the branch fell - and was caught in the canopy of a jacaranda tree - said pruning such a large portion of the gum would result in its death but that she was happy to discuss the pruning of a particular branch.
"If his primary concern was safety, he would not put a play area directly under the tree in the very back corner of his yard when he has a 1200sq m block," she said.
"As a tree owner, I have responsibilities and I will manage and maintain it. If I thought it was about safety I would take action."
In documents submitted to QCAT and obtained by The Sunday Mail, Mr McDonald - a licensed real estate agent - cites both safety concerns and those of his view being inhibited by the growing gum.