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Letter to the Minister for Transport re impact of light rail

on Moore Park’s trees and wildlife, and response of 3 June

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Saving Moore Park

 

27 April 2016

 

The Hon. Andrew Constance, MP

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

GPO Box 5341

Sydney NSW 2001

 

 

Dear Minister

 

Moore Park Trees

 

I am writing on behalf of nearly 2,800 people who in the past three months have expressed their support for the efforts our Association has been taking towards saving Moore Park for future generations.

 

I wish to support the views expressed by the Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, in his letter yesterday to you concerning the Protection of Moore Park Trees and Wildlife.

 

The glorious avenue of Moreton Bay fig trees that comprises Anzac Parade has few equals in Australia. The trees are our heritage. The boulevard they line commemorates the Australians who fought in World War 1. The arching canopy of these century old trees is a haven for wildlife.

 

Whichever way you look at it, the trees and their context demand that particular care be taken to ensuring their preservation as a unified whole.

 

To say that for every tree removed, eight will be planted ignores the value of what’s there now. It trivializes the significance of these wonderful old trees.

 

We readily appreciate that some sacrifices have to be made in the interests of developing the South East Light Rail. However, we seriously question whether sufficient care is being taken to minimize the impact of construction on the Anzac Parade boulevard, both in the design work and the way the work is being carried out.

 

Several points raised by Alex Greenwich constitute a wake up call – a reason for the Government to pause and reconsider:

 

  • If experts claim that the methodology used to lop the trees was developed for trees that are 20 to 30 years old rather than trees of great age, and involves an excessive impact on both the canopy and roots of the trees concerned, as well as a risk to the adjacent trees, does this not concern the Government?

 

  • As the project documentation is not specific about which trees are to be lopped (and by how much) and which are to be removed does the level and nature of disclosure regarding the impact on trees meet the requirements of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979?

 

  • The lack of specificity magnifies the risk that poor ad hoc decisions by the contractor may have long lasting and unintended consequences for the trees that remain. Does this not concern the Government?

 

  • Given the lack of information, does the Government appreciate why the community lacks confidence that other options have been considered which might result in fewer trees being removed and more judicious lopping?

 

  • The replacement of large trees by small ones does nothing to compensate for canopy loss. This reinforces the need for great care to minimize the loss of canopy and the impact on the trees that remain. Does the government agree?

 

  • We are unaware of any wildlife impact statement having been prepared. If it is true that an assessment was limited to a two hour visual survey of 63 trees, does the Government believe this was adequate?

 

Underlying all these concerns is a lack of transparency – the lack of a clearly documented plan outlining details of the proposed removal and lopping of trees in Anzac Parade.

 

Rightly or wrongly, therefore, the community believes that decisions which will have devastating and long lasting impacts on trees and wildlife are being made in an ad hoc way and driven by a desire for urgency. This impression is reinforced by the expert views referred to by Alex Greenwich.

 

The Government professes that it “aims to foster responsible and representative government that is open, accountable, fair and effective”. Consistent with these principles, I request:

 

  • an answer to the above questions;

 

  • that you direct ALTRAC to provide a report on its approach to tree removal and lopping, specifying which trees will be affected, and addressing the concerns raised by the two experts whose details Alex Greenwich provided;

 

  • that the removal and lopping of all trees in Anzac Parade be halted until the community has had an opportunity to consider and comment on that report.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Michael Waterhouse

Convenor

Saving Moore Park Inc.

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