Council doubles down on tree removal plan

Wattle Range Council has re-affirmed its decision to cut down 15 mature trees at Penola at a cost of $21,000.

Last month, council voted six votes to four to remove the cypress trees from the Penola parklands near the former railyards in Clarke Street as part of the Penola Coonawarra rail trail redevelopment.

A rescindment motion was subsequently lodged by Councillor Dean Burrow and was debated for 45 minutes on Tuesday night when the council held its May monthly meeting in Millicent.

His motion was unsuccessful by the same margin.

Speaking in favour of retaining the trees, Cr Burrow quoted the opinion of a local forester who said the trees appeared to be in a good condition and some pruning was warranted.

Furthermore, Cr Burrow said council staff had recently advised the land occupied by the doomed trees was now not required for a proposed toilet block.

Cr Burrow said council had hoped to secure a $25,000 Federal Government grant to plant a grove of trees in that area in honour of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen but the grant application had been unsuccessful.

He said the trees had aesthetic appeal and provided a windbreak as well as screened the industrial area from view.

“The trees create a sheltered and secluded area where tourists can picnic,” Cr Burrow said.

“All trees store carbon and we cannot expect countries like Brazil to stop deforestation in the Amazon jungle, often referred to as the lungs of the earth, when we in the affluent west do not make every possible effort to preserve our trees.

“By keeping the existing trees, it will reduce the cost and number of trees required to landscape the area to a very high standard.”

A number of councillors said the trees were unattractive including John Drew and Peter Dunnicliff.

Cr Chris Brodie said the trees should be removed to provide a clean slate.

Chief executive Ben Gower said a purchase order had been signed with a local contractor for the tree removal and a financial penalty could apply if the work did not proceed.

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