THE threat of legal action has brought to a halt work on the removal of the Bum Tree on Gerroa Road.
Shoalhaven City Council general manager Russ Pigg confirmed there had been a stay of execution for the iconic tree until at least Friday.
The South Coast Register understands a case is being prepared to be lodged with the Land and Environment Court to try to stop the tree’s removal.
“There is some sort of legal action pending, just where that goes at this stage I have no idea, but in the interim we have stopped any planned removal of the Bum Tree,” Mr Pigg said.
“After consulting our legal advisers we agreed to give the person proposing the legal action until end of the week.”
Mr Pigg said he made the decision in consultation with other staff and council’s legal adviser.
“Rather than rush in and knock everything down prior, we want to give the possible proposer the opportunity to put their case,” he said.
“If the proposed action doesn’t come forward or until we see what the case is about, works will continue to proceed but the Bum Tree won’t be removed at this stage.”
Contractors, who have been on site since last week, are still working on the southern side of the intersection.
Council received black spot funding to widen Gerroa Road at the intersection with Beach Road and has removed a number of trees and undergrowth up to six metres along the edge of the roadway.
The removal of the well-known Bum Tree, just north of the Beach Road intersection, had originally been planned for Wednesday.
It is believed the 45 metre 400-year-old blackbutt was to have its upper limbs removed on Tuesday before a crane was positioned on Wednesday to remove the base of the trunk.
Asked if council had undertaken a threatened species study or if it was required to undertake an environmental impact statement the Register was told the work was being carried out under section 88 of the Roads Act which allows for tree removal in the name of safety regardless of other legislation.
“That’s a pretty telling piece of legislation,” Mr Pigg said.
“Council certainly looked at the issue of the habitat in context of the total national park habitat and came to the conclusion from an environmental point of view that the removal of the limited number of habitat trees wouldn’t have adverse or significant impact on the environment.
“These trees don’t allow proper sight vision.”
Gerroa Environmental Protection Society president Warren Holder said it was great to see a stay in the Bum Tree’s removal.
“I don’t know how long it will last,” he said.
“But who knows where it could lead.”
Mr Holder said support for the group’s effort continues and members will be holding another meeting at the location on Wednesday from 9am to pass on the latest information.