Protest over Bellingen trees
IT BEGAN as a peaceful rally around one of the massive camphor laurels in Bellingen’s Church Street.
The crowd of about 60 locals came in support of what Mo Regan called ‘the elders of the town’ – the 80-year-old trees due to be progressively removed as part of a beautification plan for the street.
“You don’t chop down your elders,” Ms Regan said.
Another resident, Robbie Farrer, said the trees were part of the charm of the town and one of the features that made Bellingen different to other towns.
“No-one minds improving the street but we just don’t want to see the trees cut down,” she said.
The mood, however, shifted to anger when Cr Sean Tuohy stood up to explain the council plan.
“I understand many of you regard these trees as beautiful but I regard these trees as a weed,” Cr Tuohy said.
“They should never have been planted here and they destroy the environment.”
He said the $30,000 that will finance the plan was a Federal grant tied specifically to the project.
“This is not about camphor laurel eradication . . . this is a plan for the entire redevelopment of the space. In that context the trees need to be removed or repaired.”
He added repairs to such old damaged trees were difficult.
But the crowd was having none of it. Pauline Kidson reminded people of the fight some years ago to save the town’s jacarandas.
“Some weeds are significant beyond their classification.”
Others in the crowd called for funds to be redirected to the other end of Church Street.