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Flood Of Angst Over Junction Fig Trees

By Marcus Braid on April 2, 2015 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

The removal of a third fig tree on Allens Parade in Bondi Junction has stirred up local residents, who are upset over the consultation and removal process.

Maria Flood, a resident of Hollywood Avenue adjacent to Allens Parade, said a variety of excuses have been used by Waverley Council to cull the tree.

“There were eight [Ficus microcarpa var. hillii] trees originally,” she said. “They actually removed the first tree in 2013 and within a couple of days a few residents came back and a second tree was removed.

“Suddenly, we get a letter on October 22 last year. Council then said they had removed a limb to stop the noise but they don’t need to remove the tree, but on January 29 we got a phone call to say that the whole tree was going to be removed.”

Ms Flood said Council had changed its mind and decided suddenly on such action, without any consultation or notification.

“As far as I’m concerned, there was 100 percent opposition to the removal,” she said. “I did a petition with 71 signatures and not one of those residents, apart from me and my neighbour, were notified.”

An urgent motion and petition was put forward to Council, but they have voted that the third fig tree will be removed.

“All I know is that we were supposed to be consulted by Council,” Ms Flood said. “It has not been arranged as of yet in terms of what the tree is going to be replaced with. It appears that we have lost that battle. We are still trying to save the rest of the trees but, to be honest, it seems to be an uphill battle.”

Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said the tree removal had been ongoing since 2013, and that it had been a long and involved process.

“We know that permission was given to take out some of the trees,” she said. “The first thing I asked our officers was to look at the process. Our process was really good. Advertising [about the tree removal] took place, as per our tree policy. We had arborists and structural engineers. I’m convinced Council followed the correct procedures.”

Cr Betts, who said it was very hard to remove a tree in Waverley, called on Ms Flood to challenge Council’s policy on trees.

“If she was not happy with the process as such, what she should have done is gone to look at our tree policy, which was on exhibition for a long time during the time that the trees were being removed,” Cr Betts said. “I’m really surprised that was the time they didn’t say the process was wrong.”

In response, Ms Flood complained that the community voice had been neglected.

“One person who doesn’t even live in the area is being listened to and being accommodated, but the people who live here and the majority of people that it’s impacting on are just not being heard,” she said.