Ballina Shire Council met yesterday afternoon to determine the fate of the Castle Drive fig tree, and, despite significant community opposition, they voted against a motion to delay the felling of the tree.
In other words, the tree will go.
According to Sherrie Yeomans who has been championing the preservation of the tree for the last few weeks, and started the Facebook group Castle Drive Fig Protectors, ‘There were feelings of disbelief last night that the Council have still voted to cut the stunning Castle drive Fig down.
‘We thank the councillors who spoke so well in her favour Phil Meehan, Keith Williams, Sharon Parry and Jeff Johnson.
‘But I am astounded with the evidence and solutions as given to council on Sunday 29th of April that not one of these options have been investigated.
‘I am stunned that last night in council lawyers, a number of engineers, insurance representatives were all there to represent the council in favour of cutting down the Castle drive Fig.
‘Veteran Tree Group offered their service for free, council did not even contact them.’
Local Member for Ballina Tamara Smith posted this response:
‘Trees and nature do not have standing when it comes to a court hearing ! It is encumbent on me as the Member for Ballina and a member of the Greens to see that every possible effort to save an iconic 200 year old fig tree is made.
I understand the negative impacts on residents property and we know that if it comes to court that property rights will trump the rights of a tree. That is why it is important that I stand with the environmentalists and concerned members of the community to do everything we can to save the tree.
I would like to see all of the options such as root barriers and other methods well and truly exhausted before discussion of felling takes place.
Council to their credit have been pursuing solutions but I now think it is the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Minister who needs to step in to help.
I am writing to the Minister today to get her advice and see what she can do to protect the fig tree ever mindful of the impact the tree roots are having on the affected residents.’