Federal minister to investigate

THE battle of the Bum Tree has the attention of Federal Minister for Environment Greg Hunt.

The minister’s office confirmed it had received a letter from local doctor Dan Harmelin regarding the clearing on Gerroa Road and that it would review the matter and reply to Dr Harmelin.

Dr Harmelin requested an immediate investigation into Shoalhaven City Council clearing along Gerroa Road.

Dr Harmelin claimed council was destroying a number of large blackbutt trees in the area, which are part of the habitat of nine birds and mammals and one amphibian on the federal department’s threatened species list.

He said evidence shows that the regent honeyeater, swift parrot, long-nosed potoroo, southern brown bandicoot (eastern), spotted-tail quoll, grey-headed flying fox, large-eared pied bat and green and gold bell frog, have been reported in the area and are all listed threatened species under the EPBC Act.

A spokesperson for Minister Hunt’s office said the EPBC Act can come into play if a matter of national significance is affected and threatened species are one of those matters.

Dr Harmelin described the clearing as environmental vandalism and asked the minister to compel council to cease the clearing.

He also questioned council’s consultation processes, saying there was no widespread consultation or meaningful community participation.

“Other suggestions to increase safety in the area like lowering speed limits or even installing a roundabout were not considered,” he said.

Meanwhile work has stopped on the planned removal of the Bum Tree on Gerroa Road just north of the Beach Road intersection with a vigil at the location by members of the Gerroa Environmental Protection Society (GEPS) and other concerned citizens now in its third week.

GEPS secretary Howard Jones said most of the trees had been removed and were a distant memory.

“But the two large trees, including the majestic bum tree are still standing,” he said.

“We have had two reprieves so far.

“Indications are work may resume early next week but that is yet to be confirmed.” 

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