TREE FELLS FIRE STA­TION

MAYOR SAYS MOV­ING LO­CA­TION BY 50M WILL SOLVE PROB­LEM

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Alison Bald­ing

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.

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