Giving a fig ... signs were erected on the Jonson Street fig trees earlier this week pleading for them to be left alone. A decision on their fate will be made at today’s Byron Council meeting.
Giving a fig ... signs were erected on the Jonson Street fig trees earlier this week pleading for them to be left alone. A decision on their fate will be made at today’s Byron Council meeting.

Jonson Street figs up for removal

It seems almost certain the two fig trees on either side of the pedestrian crossing in Jonson Street, Byron Bay, will be removed because of ongoing safety and maintenance concerns.

And there are people not too happy about it.

Signs were erected earlier this week on the trees with a message to leave them alone.

Byron Council’s executive manager of asset management services, Phil Holloway, has given an assurance the fig trees, planted in the 1990s, won’t be removed without the council first considering all of the issues and concerns of residents.

A report regarding problems being created by the two trees will go before the council today, with councillors to vote on a staff recommendation that they be removed.

The cost of doing so and repairing the damage they have caused and replacing them with advanced weeping lilly pillys is estimated at $21,000.

Mr Holloway said the fig trees were not a suitable type of tree for a location with high-intensity pedestrian, car and parking activity.

He said in order for the fig trees to achieve their full potential, substantial works would have to be undertaken involving the removal of road area, footpath space and car parking.

“If the trees were to remain without doing this, the alternative is to undertake regular and major trimming, resulting in them never reaching their full potential,” he said.

“Currently they are causing trip hazards to pedestrians, uplifting the pavement and kerb, and casting a shadow over the pedestrian crossing from street lights.

“We have also received complaints about health and hygiene issues when the trees are fruiting and consequently attract bats.”

The report to the council also raises concerns over public liability issues.

Mr Holloway said insurance coverage required reasonable steps to be taken to minimise risks of trip hazards greater than 20mm.

He said if the council didn’t take reasonable steps within a reasonable timeframe, it might be liable for future damage claims.

Additionally, the council’s heritage advisor had been consulted and had noted the trees did not hold any heritage value and no objections were raised to their removal from a heritage perspective.

Mr Holloway said if the fig trees were removed, they would be replaced with advanced weeping lilly pillys.

He said once established, the mature replacement trees would provide the required shade and visual amenity for the town centre.

The report to the council is available on its website at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/meetings

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