RESIDENTS in Mission Terrace and Fairwinds Estate areas are angry about Port Macquarie-Hastings Council’s destruction of eight fruit trees.
Recently the council notified residents that the trees would be removed because they were planted in the middle of the council’s Asset Protection Zone.
A group of residents contacted the Camden Haven Courier to voice their anger.
“The trees were here for nine years at least,” said Michael Beach.
“There were mandarin and orange trees which a local man planted. The neighbours had permission to help themselves to the fruit and the local kids would help themselves too. It was a nice thing for the people. The man who planted them is devastated. He keeps the area looking great, keeping the area mowed and clear of rubbish and branches. It’s like parkland.
“I can’t understand why the council ground the trees down to ground level and left a few others.”
Mr Beach said the area was scrub before the neighbours worked to clean it up for a firebreak from their properties and to maintain a pleasing environment.
A walking track links the Mission Terrace and Fairwinds area. One side of the path is mown and maintained by residents, where the fruit trees were planted.
The other side is scrub, with loads of dead undergrowth and lopped branches lying on the forest floor. The debris lies in places right up against the fences of neighbouring properties.
“Why did the council spend the energy here and not leave other places in a mess?” Mr Beach asked.
Liam Bulley, the council’s manager of parks and recreation, said the council notified residents of the plan to remove the trees.
“The area north of the walking path (scrub) was prioritised as requiring work first and was undertaken at the beginning of April,” Mr Bulley said.
“The works which involved tree removal was completed on the 23 May as a result of an extension of grant funding. Work was undertaken on both sides of the reserve, north and south of the walking track, where access was restricted.
“Council must undertake an environmental assessment of the works and is restricted under environmental legislation as to the extent of works permitted in areas of native vegetation.
“Therefore, the amount of vegetation removed on the north side of the walking track was limited to undergrowth and smaller trees.
“The primary purpose is to provide safe access by removing trip hazards and creating a fuel reduced buffer where other fuel mitigation works can be undertaken over time.
“On the southern side of the walking track, the fruit trees had been planted in the middle of the Asset Protection Zone (APZ). The maximum distance of works from the property boundaries is limited to a distance of 10 metres. To provide the required vehicle access the fruit trees were removed. Vehicle access is important from an operational standpoint in this locality and APZ provides this where possible, as it allows for increased safety for emergency services personnel.
“Port Macquarie-Hastings Council under the Rural Fires Act is required to take practicable steps to minimise the potential impact of bushfire from the reserve to assets contained with residents’ property boundaries. The APZ will also provide some access for emergency services and reduce bushfire fuel loads against the fences adjacent to reserves.
“Earlier this year, Council informed those residents abutting the newly constructed Asset Protection Zones. In constructing the APZ, brush cutting, some spraying, tree pruning and tree removal was required to create the buffer zone.
“I appreciate that some residents are unhappy about the removal of trees that they have planted on Council land, but Council would like to remind residents that they are not permitted to plant within Council reserves and road reserves without permission.
“The APZ will provide a higher level of protection for residences during bushfire events.”