Coun­cil olive branch on plan to fell palms

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony. gal­loway@ news. com. au

THE nut­ti­ness will end but the nuts will likely re­main in the Whit­sun­day re­gion.

Res­i­dents went nuts af­ter Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil in May re­leased a draft plan to re­move al­most all of the area’s 970 co­conut palms, only ex­clud­ing those in some parks and near town en­try signs.

The cash- strapped coun­cil said it could not con­tinue to pay $ 75,000 ev­ery year in con­trac­tor fees to “de- nut” the trees on coun­cil- owned land.

The coun­cil has un­der­taken four com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings over the past month, with at­ten­dees re­port­edly slam­ming its draft plan to re­move the iconic trees.

With a coun­cil of­fi­cer now pre­par­ing a re­port on the com­mu­nity feed­back, Whit­sun­day coun­cil­lors said they would likely at a meet­ing next month vote to keep most of the re­gion’s co­conut palms.

Whit­sun­day Deputy Mayor An­drew Wil­cox said the over-

Peo­ple want the co­conuts to stay WHIT­SUN­DAY DEPUTY MAYOR

AN­DREW WIL­COX

whelm­ing feel­ing from the com­mu­nity was that peo­ple wanted to keep the trees.

“I don’t think we need to be cut­ting down co­conut trees but I’m keen to look at the re­port which is be­ing pre­pared,” he said. “We do need a man­age­ment plan be­cause we do need to ad­dress li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

“The public has come for­ward with a lot of good in­for­ma­tion and that will all be col­lated and then it will come for coun­cil’s de­ter­mi­na­tion. The gen­eral feel­ing is peo­ple want the co­conuts to stay.”

Cr Dave Clarke said he be­lieved the con­tro­ver­sial co­conut plan had been de­vel­oped as a dis­trac­tion to the coun­cil’s bud­get.

“I think it was a di­ver­sion to the bud­get. It’s just a joke,” he said. “I’m in­ter­ested in the co- conuts, but noth­ing will hap­pen to them. They should leave them as they are ... be­cause that’s why peo­ple come to Whit­sun­days and Bowen.”

Cr Jan Clifford said wide­spread media cov­er­age and public re­ac­tion to the draft plan had “got out of hand”.

“It was a draft plan, no one was go­ing down with chain­saws cut­ting down co­conut palms,” she said.

“I agree with some of the draft plan, I dis­agree with some of it. There are bits I think were OK and other bits were plain dumb.”

Dancers Zil­lah Ball, Sean Maloney and Chris­tine Nut­ley were also happy to hear about the nom­i­na­tion and said they en­joyed the in­ter­ac­tion with friends and fun the group pro­vides.

Ms Cald­well will travel to Ade­laide on Septem­ber 12 for the awards cer­e­mony.

STEP­PING UP: Chris­tine Nut­ley, Sean Malone, Leigh Cald­well and Zil­lah Ball.

Pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

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