Nambucca Shire Council votes for gradual removal of riverside trees

The public gallery was full at Nambucca Shire Council's meeting on Thursday, with residents keen to hear what was planned for the future of Macksville's riverside trees.

The council received 609 'form' letter objections to their proposed removal as well as a 60-strong protest on April 4.

The resulting report recommended the gradual removal of the trees over the next 15 years to allow replacement trees to become well-established.

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But first it was the turn of community representatives to speak.

Mickey Hawkes reiterated the trees were in fact what people remembered most about the town.

"We have no fine dining, no opera ... people come here for the environment," Mickey said.

"The trees are healthy and it would be pre-emptive to remove them ... these trees are an asset and should be professionally cared for. Let's look after what we've got."

Nancy Smith noted the importance of the trees as pollinators and asked that alternatives solutions other than removal be explored.

"The arborist's report offers no remediation suggestions for the care of the trees ... we could tap into the wealth of community knowledge to save money and share wisdom," Nancy said.

Sally Cavanagh said advanced trees should be used for replanting and given a 12 month window to ensure they offered shade.

"I suggest that caring for the trees that are there now could help prolong their lives," Sally said.

"Roofs over the picnic tables and regular cleaning of the path during fruiting season are additional ways we could ensure the amenity of the area."

The mayor Rhonda Hoban immediately altered the recommendation to remove the 15 year limit on the replacement program.

Cr John Ainsworth said he believed this was the "best proposal we can get" given the huge quantity of submissions.

"I think we need to plant advanced trees and not delay any longer," Cr Ainsworth said.

Cr Janine Reed said the council needed to plan for the decline of the trees.

"A plan for the future is sensible and wise," she said.

Cr Susan Jenvey put forward an amendment to ensure the care of the trees to the end of their natural life. This was supported by Cr David Jones who said the key was to "hasten slowly".

"We're talking about timing here - let's not rush," Cr Jones said.

The amendment was lost with the council then voting in favour of providing $20,000 in funding in its 2019/2020 or subsequent budgets for the preparation of a detailed design for the River Street foreshore with a view to the gradual replacement of the Kaffir Plum trees with appropriate species, such that any replacement trees are well advanced before any trees are removed.

The design will be put on public exhibition upon completion.

Councillors also voted to write to Joan's Volunteer Army and express its sincere appreciation for in excess of 25 years of dedicated maintenance of the River Street foreshore.

The group previously wrote to the council informing it of their decision to discontinue their work in that particular area (story coming).

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