Fig trees removal 'confusing'

Teresa Heal stands in front of one of the fig trees earmarked for removal.
Teresa Heal stands in front of one of the fig trees earmarked for removal.

The proposed removal of four fig trees in Middleton Street, Byron Bay, has members of the Green and Clean Team, an award-winning group of volunteers committed to planting and greening the area, somewhat confused.

Teresa Heal lives in Middleton Street and is a long-term active member of the Green and Clean Team.

“Here we are, having planted around 50,000 trees since the group’s inception 13 years ago, and council are preparing to tear trees down,” Ms Heal said.

Ms Heal has questioned the wisdom of removing the trees that have been earmarked to disappear.

“The Department of Education has put in a DA (development application) to remove these trees as they want to put in more classrooms,” she said.

 “These four fig trees are magnificent mature trees and of immense value for their beauty, shade, habitat and heritage value for future generations, and carbon absorption.”

Ms Heal questioned whether there was a building technique that could accommodate the trees or even a compromise where only two of the trees were removed.

“If we are unable to save these trees then we are deluding ourselves that we are ‘green’,” she said. “What will they be replaced with?

“Are the other fig trees in the street next to go?”

Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of planning, Ray Darney, said council had approved the removal of five trees from Middleton Street.

Mr Darney said approval had been given to the Department of Education because the trees were creating root problems and risks in the adjacent Byron Bay Primary School playground.

"The school was also successful in receiving funding from the Federal Government for the construction of a new building at this site, and the existing trees will create significant problems," he said.

Mr Darney said under council’s approval, the Education Department was also required to install root barriers along the boundary of the land and plant four replacement trees.

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