Council to meet with tree objectors
A Berrigan Shire Council decision to plant non-native trees along Jerilderie St in Berrigan has gone against the wishes of the community, according to Berrigan Tidy Towns president Mark Ryan.
Mr Ryan said Berrigan Tidy Towns members were frustrated to learn the peppercorn trees would be replaced by Chinese pistachio trees, despite being voted against in favour of Australian natives.
‘‘Our contention is that Berrigan has a magnificent facility at the Tank Paddock and has received great accolades for that site, and we would like to see the Berrigan town follow a native tree planting regime with any new trees that are planted,’’ Mr Ryan said.
‘‘There’s a huge variety we could select from that would be very nice for the town.
‘‘They would be native, require very little water and wouldn't be deciduous trees.’’
Mr Ryan said there was a need for more individual consultation on the tree planting proposals, separate to the town entry concept adopted by council more than five years ago.
‘‘The whole tree issue was tied in with the Berrigan concept plan that was put forward to the community,’’ Mr Ryan said.
‘‘At the time we were told not to worry about the trees, as it was too early in the planning and it would be dealt with later.
‘‘They (council) employed an arborist from Woodend to assess the peppercorns who declared the trees unsafe, which is totally wrong.
‘‘My understanding is the peppercorn trees were planted about 100 years ago and they grew thanks to a lady who would water them, so a few people are annoyed the heritage aspect has been ignored.’’
Coinciding with roadworks, one stand of peppercorns was removed to make way for new guttering in Jerilderie St.
‘‘We reached a compromise to prune them to get roadworks done, but that we don’t want the trees on the western side removed while the eastern side is being planted,’’ Mr Ryan said.
‘‘They (council) came back too quickly and gave us three selections of trees, one of which we told the shire wouldn't work so they did a poll of residents.
‘‘With no further consultation with Tidy Towns, council polled the residents with two trees that aren’t native to the area and my understanding is there were 75 responses.’’
Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan said council will meet with members of Berrigan Tidy Towns today to explain their decision.
‘‘People can be quite emotional when it comes to tree planting,’’ Cr Hannan said.
‘‘Some people would like native trees and others want non-native trees. As a council we elected to take the recommendations from our staff, who engaged with community consultation and spoke with experts about the best solution moving forward.
‘‘We’re an open council and are happy to speak with Tidy Towns about their feelings on the matter.’’
Cr Hannan said council felt new trees would be necessary given the arborist’s report indicated the town’s peppercorn trees might die within the next 10 years.