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Finley residents oppose Berrigan Shire's construction policy

Finley’s Broughans Rd residents are protesting the removal of trees to make way for a wider road.

January 22, 2014 4:20am

Rob McMurray is ‘‘disheartened’’ with Berrigan Shire Council’s removal of native and established trees.

Berrigan Shire Council says council policy dictates the trees must be removed to make way for the road and a required ‘run off’ area, but the residents refuse to accept the reasoning.

Robert McMurray, Alan Stevens and Viv Muirhead formally protested the tree removal at last week’s Berrigan Shire Council meeting and have demanded no more trees be removed.

Mr McMurray said he was disheartened by the recent removal of native and established trees along the road.

And he says residents were not properly notified of the decision to remove the trees.

‘‘They have had no consultation with us up to this time – it’s pretty disappointing,’’ he said.

‘‘Ratepayers had no idea what’s going on ... all the ratepayers I have spoken to knew nothing about it.

‘‘My aunty was telling me the trees are very old, so it would be a great shame for them to be taken out.

‘‘It is just very disheartening.

‘‘We know it (the road) is a school bus route ... but there has never been an issue before.

‘‘They have pushed a major road to nowhere.’’

Berrigan Shire Council confirmed the trees were removed as part of ongoing work to double the width of Broughans Rd, which general manager Rowan Perkins said is a school bus and milk truck route.

He said the narrow, 4m wide road is being widened to 8m. The widening project has already been running for two years, and Mr Perkins said it could take another two years to complete.

‘‘It’s an ongoing project – we do three or four kilometres each year.

‘‘It is council policy when reconstructing a road that it has to be a certain width and have a safe 4m run off.

‘‘The road is being constructed to a plan.

‘‘The road is being widened to specifics, and we simply can’t have trees too close to the roadside.

‘‘We need to build to that standard, and that means we have to remove trees.’’

Mr Perkins said it was not a requirement for council to consult directly with residents, saying the project is ‘‘advertised’’ annually through the shire’s Operational Plan, which he said was open for public submission.

Mr Perkins said while not included in the original road construction plans, council will now consider a tree replanting project along Broughans Rd.

He said council will work in conjunction with the community for the best solution, but said any replanting would need to satisfy council policy.

Also disappointed by an apparent lack of consultation, Mrs Muirhead said she welcomes council’s commitment to look at options to replace the trees.

‘‘The council has listened to us and we understand that they are just following road regulations,’’ she said.

‘‘We would like to have a tree planting process, and we (herself, Mr McMurray and Mr Stevens) are going to negotiate with council about replacing some of the trees.

‘‘We just want the council to negotiate with us.’’

Mr Perkins said the road construction, which also includes resurfacing is a long-term project.

He said two years of road works have already been completed, which he said means it’s ‘‘almost done’’.

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