Culturally significant weeds: Barry Keough with heritage-listed camphors in the background.
Culturally significant weeds: Barry Keough with heritage-listed camphors in the background. Ute Schulenberg

Double standard for weeds

WHEN a letter arrived 12 months ago telling the Keough family the camphor laurels on their land had been heritage listed, they thought it was a joke.

Their story has added impetus now given the controversy brewing in Bellingen over the proposed removal of large camphors that dominate the Church Street cafe precinct.

“Camphors are listed as noxious weeds – I just can’t understand how they can be heritage-listed at the same time,” Leanne Keough said.

She said it was even more strange to discover trees on one side of the Never Never River were listed but not on the other.

“We were told those listed were part of a culturally significant planting but I think frankly it’s all red tape and commonsense has not prevailed.”

Her husband, Trevor, said the family had been trying to get the trees removed from the heritage listing but were told it would require a detailed submission to change the shire’s newly completed local environment plan (LEP).

The council’s director of environment, Charlie Hannavy, said while camphor laurels were listed as noxious weeds, newer weeds were a higher priority as far as control was concerned.

“Mature camphors are different because they are part of the landscape,” Mr Hannavy said.

“In this case the trees were identified in a 1992 heritage study as part of a significant cultural planting.”

He said the study had never been acted upon until now.

“Now we have completed the 2010 LEP and they have been listed as culturally significant.”

He said the council was working on developing a policy on how to assess issues where weeds were also heritage-listed.



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