Tree removal without notification upsets residents

NO NOTIFICATION: Eastgrove resident David Cribb surveys the bulldozed pine trees at the Goulburn Golf Course recently.
NO NOTIFICATION: Eastgrove resident David Cribb surveys the bulldozed pine trees at the Goulburn Golf Course recently.

Some Eastgrove residents are unhappy about the sudden removal of 80-year-old pine trees from near their houses without notice. 

While the grand old trees provided shade to nearby houses and visual amenity to the area as well as a nesting places for birds, the residents who gathered in the street to witness the bulldozing of the trees last Friday were mainly upset that they had received no notification about their removal.

May St resident David Cribb said his daughter ran home and said: “dad what are they doing to the trees?” 

“We went out to look and she became upset and then so did I. Why had one had told us this was going to happen?” Mr Cribb said. 

“I am not a greenie, but why did they just knock them down without telling anyone? There was no notification.

“The trees provided shade and privacy for people’s backyards - now you can look straight into them from May St. My daughter saw the bulldozer pushing the trees over and she got very upset. I have spoken to my to neighbours and no one else knew about it.

“I have been here for 12 years and I originally bought this place because I liked the proximity to the trees. Where are the birds that roost here going to go now?”

Another nearby resident Bill Harding said he was unhappy because the birds that used to be there now no had nowhere to nest and had since disappeared. 

“It is the wrong time of year to do it,” Mr Harding said. 

“They have taken the whole lot out. Why do it now, it is not quite the end of the nesting season?

“My next-door neighbour and I feed the magpies and King Parrots and they have all gone.

“I was disappointed they took all of the trees out and also that there was no notification about it.

”It has also stirred up the snakes. Two tiger snakes have come into my neighbour’s yard since the trees were bulldozed and also some mean-looking feral cats.” 

The bulldozing of the trees was done according to plans and funding obtained by the the Goulburn Golf Course Reserve Trust. 

Trust chair Peter Nightingale said: “the Trust may have been remiss in not contacting the nearby residents about it” – but he said the trees were removed because they posed a safety hazard to golfers, walkers and residents. 

“While this was probably an oversight, we notified 260 members of the golf club by email and did not get one objection,” Mr Nightingale said. 

“In 2009, we got a tree management plan done by an arborist and they recommended we removed the pines because many of them were not in good condition and we had a duty of care to make the course as safe as possible.”

The Trust also obtained a state government grant to do the work. 

“The Trust applied for a grant through the Crown Lands Department and got it to remove those trees and replant new trees and we allocated $5000 for the new trees,” he said.

“They are Leightons Green conifers that grow to 15m. Gehl’s Garden Centre said there were the fastest growing conifer suitable for this area. We are also planting flowering trees such as Bradford Pears.” 

Mr Nightingale said the trees were removed in a block because that was what the arborist recommended.

“If you plant new trees between old, tall trees the new ones do not do well,” he said.

“Trees are like anything that lives – eventually they die. We don’t like to see trees go either. We would rather see trees planted or thriving as they have for many years but it gets to a point where there is a duty of care – we are at the point of time where trees on the course are starting to die off from old age.” 

He said the decision to remove them at this time was because the bulldozer was available and the earth was soft from the rain, so knocking them over would cause less damage to the golf course. 

Not all nearby residents are unhappy about the tree removal. Resident Mary Ann Weston said the tree removal had been coming for some time.

"The golf club and its management applied for a grant to remove trees, which were ageing and located close to homes and fairways, presenting a danger to residents' homes, golfers and the public using the area,” Mrs Weston said. 

“In our case, over 40m high poplars and their associated and prolific suckers (which were and are growing under our house) were just 10m from our home and its infrastructure. In the case of the pine trees, some of the branches were dead and falling and a danger to anyone who wandered near to them. 

“The removal of the trees now makes way for new and safer plantings. The golf club acted responsibly to remove a potentially dangerous situation in accordance with their responsibility to public safety and to minimise liability."