200-year-old fig tree set to be chopped down

The giant fig tree on Castle Drive in Lennox Head that is scheduled to be cut down.
The giant fig tree on Castle Drive in Lennox Head that is scheduled to be cut down. Marc Stapelberg

BALLINA Shire Council is facing some controversy after deciding to cut down a significant fig tree.

The tree, believed to be at least 200 years old, is on Castle Dr at Lennox Head.

Manager for Open Spaces and Resource Recovery at Ballina Shire Council, Cheyne Willebrands, said the decision made last week was due to a public risk perspective, significant infrastructure damage and advice from insurers.

"No one wants to see any tree go, especially one of this size and significance however sometimes we have to make hard and difficult choices," Mr Willbrands said.

"We are finally up to a point where we have no other option but to manage the risk and remove the tree and we will be replacing it with a more appropriate species."

However, former councillor Sue Meehan, who advocated heavily for tree planting and maintenance in her eight years at council, said she doesn't think this decision is good enough.

"When I heard the tree in Castle Drive was going to be cut down I was just appalled," Mrs Meehan said.

"Without the tree, this whole residential area is going to lose its character."

"I just don't think it is good enough to go well the easy option is to go let's just remove the tree."

"Let's get an expert in those trees to tell us what they can."

One neighbour said he can understand why the resident would want to remove the tree from their property, after seeing the damage and maintenance completed by those directly affected by the tree.

"I can fully understand why they would want to get rid of it, it would be a pain in the bum," resident of Castle Drive said.

"It looks nice from my place but I'm not directly affected by it."

The concern for Mrs Meehan is this decision will set precedence for other complaints in the future.

"It's the thin edge of the wedge and the precedent for any large tree in an urban environment," she said.

"They are just all going to be gone unless we as a community take a stand and say we value them too much we want them to stay."

"I want the community to know and hopefully write into council and say no we want this to stay."

Mr Willebrands said the council will now be planning works and communicating with the nearby residents.

Topics:  ballina shire council fig tree lennox head northern rivers council

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