Three sets of Illawarra neighbours have found themselves in court in dispute over trees between their properties, with the chainsaws so far leading the trees 2-1 after judgements in Stanwell Park, Mount Pleasant and Warilla. A large mature turpentine tree will have to be cut down in Stanwell Park after two neighbouring families were unable to agree on how retaining wall damaged by the tree should be replaced. The 18m turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) had grown on the property of a couple who had lived there for 35 years. The tree was there before they arrived. The other neighbour was a newer family, who moved in in 2013, and wanted a 50-year old retaining wall, part of which had been knocked over by the tree, repaired. The tree's roots had also damaged their brickwork. Read more: Sublime Point track receives work but re-opening still uncertain The parties had shared the expense of an arborist report in 2015 which found the tree was of low risk. The owners of the property on which the tree grew pruned it regularly but a section of the wall then collapsed. In the Land and Environment Court (LEC) last week acting commissioner David Galwey found damage had been caused by the tree and it should be removed at the owners' expense. "The applicants and respondents, as well as the broader community to a lesser extent, have benefited from the tree's presence," he said. "Nevertheless, as is the usual process in such situations, the respondents, being the owners of the tree, will bear the cost of its removal." Also last week, Mount Pleasant neighbours found themselves in the LEC after a short dispute over two 25m high Eucalyptus pilularis (Blackbutt) trees estimated to be more than 100 years old. This time the trees survived the hearing. Soon after a family moved in in 2020, their neighbour raised concerns about the trees as a risk to her safety, particularly as her property was lower on the steeply sloping land. She later went so far as to tell the neighbours that Wollongong City Council had approved their removal and suggested a contractor to complete the job. But no such approval had occurred, the council confirmed, and the tree-growing property owners instead were taken to court by their neighbour seeking an order to remove the trees. The tree owner called them a "stunning feature" which add "scenic beauty" to their land. They provided privacy, and "a significant amount of shade for our property which assists in energy costs", Acting Commissioner John Douglas said. "The respondent [said] "I believe they (the trees) add value to our property", and this is indeed very likely," he said. "Established trees are known to enhance property values, at least in relatively prosperous areas, because of the environmental services and benefits they provide to human health and wellbeing." He found injury from falling branches was possible but not "likely", and ordered the trees be pruned back to beyond 3.5m of overhanging the neighbour's property. In the Warilla dispute, which concerned large stands of bamboo, both neighbours had lived there for more than 20 years. One, a keen gardener, had planted Bambusa textilis Var. Gracilis (Slender Weavers bamboo) and over the years it had grown culms up to 9m high. It was putting pressure on a Colorbond fence as it gradually spread, causing the fence to lean, while also dropping stalks on the neighbour's garage roof. Acting Commissioner Douglas criticised a man "who claimed to be an AQF level 5 arborist" - but misidentified the bamboo as a running species, when it was one that clumped. "These incorrect, partisan statements have assisted neither party, and regretfully, likely deepened the dispute," he said. "This report reinforced species identification misinformation and provided little benefit to the applicant. The report was largely a reproduced standard form document which did not even include 'Recommendations'." He ordered the bamboo and roots be removed back to 30cm from the boundary, and restrained from growing any closer. Palm trees in the area also needed to be removed. "Though Bambusa textilis Var. Gracilis is far less problematic than rhizomatous bamboo, it has considerable potential to cause damage, and conflict between neighbours," he said. "Where this species is planted close to boundaries that lack strong barriers to deflect its progress, it will readily spread under fences into neighbouring properties." The Warilla case was decided in January.