TREE FELLS FIRE STATION
MAYOR SAYS MOVING LOCATION BY 50M WILL SOLVE PROBLEM
A 150-YEAR-OLD gum tree posing “a significant risk to persons and property” stands in the way of the proposed $3.8 million Ropes Crossing fire station.
Construction of the new station in Ellsworth Drive, Tregear, was scheduled to start in February but has stalled over suspected Aboriginal heritage issues, which have been ruled out, and the need for trees to be removed.
Now Blacktown Council has added to delays by recommending the proposal be refused, putting the development in jeopardy.
PLANS for the proposed $3.8 million Ropes Crossing fire station are at risk as Blacktown Council fights to save a dangerous tree on the site.
Construction of the new station on Ellsworth Drive, Tregear, was scheduled to start in February but stalled when residents raised concerns over suspected Aboriginal heritage issues, which have been ruled out, and the need for trees to be removed.
Plans were reconfigured to require only one forest red gum tree and a small group of casuarina trees to be removed at the site.
The 150-year-old eucalyptus tree at the site’s centre has been examined by an arborist and assessed by the council’s planning department, which agreed the tree was showing signs of “irreversible decline”.
A report considered by the council in April said, while the tree had hollows with “outstanding habitat value”, it “has structural is- sues which could pose a significant risk to persons and property”.
Despite recommendations the tree hollows be relocated to make way for the new station, the council voted to recommend refusal at that site - a decision Fire and Rescue NSW fears could cost upto $800,000.
Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali said the objection was about more than just one tree.
“This isn’t just about one tree but a whole range of trees and, by just moving the fire station by as little as 50m, no trees would need to be removed,” Cr Bali said. “We support a fire station. All we are saying is to properly locate it.”
The joint regional planning panel will have the final say on whether the proposal goes ahead.
Cr Bali said the council did not have a panel representative and felt it was not worthwhile. With more state significant projects expected given the large population growth, he said it was important the council voiced its concerns.
“The State Government owns the entire corridor. It doesn’t take much to amend the location,” he said.
But the assistant director for properties at Fire and Rescue NSW, Andrew Peters, said any more delays could jeopardise the proposed fire station, which was scheduled to be com- pleted by December. He said FRNSW was disappointed the council “has not followed the recommendation of its own planning department”, instead requiring it to be referred to the panel for determination.
“Every effort has been made over the past six months to address concerns raised with the development proposal for Ropes Crossing fire station, including a reconfiguration of the proposed development so that only one tree needs to be removed from the site,” Mr Peters said.