Mayor explains different stances on roadside trees

JULY 2007: The then Gilmore MP Joanna Gash was front and centre at a protest in Kangaroo Valley about the removal of a number of trees along the edge of Moss Vale Road.

Cr Gash, now Shoalhaven Mayor, is pictured alongside then Shoalhaven councillor John Anderson holding a sign that reads: “It’s Time! Time for policy to protect state tourist roads.”

Fast forward seven years and Cr Gash has a different stance towards council’s clearing of the Gerroa Road, part of the Grand Pacific Tourist Drive, under the federal government Black Spot funding program.

Cr Gash said there were significant differences between both locations.

“Kangaroo Valley was a totally different issue,” she said.

“There had been lots of community consultation but I felt too much was being taken from the sides of the road. Admittedly, it has regrown now and you wouldn’t really know but at the time it was pretty devastating.

“I had driven over that mountain many times and knew how dangerous the road was but we wanted to see safety wires installed along the edge of the road there, which eventually did happen.”

She said there was a difference to the clearing on Gerroa Road.

“The issue on Gerroa Road is with the intersection and line of sight – that is the problem,” she said.

Minister takes a swipe at Greens but confirms RMS had no role in work

By ROBERT CRAWFORD

THE Bum Tree on Gerroa Road is expected to be removed by contractors early this week.

Located just north of the Beach Road intersection, the Bum Tree and another large blackbutt had been slated for removal but work on the clearing as part of the Black Spot funding program had been halted due to a threatened legal action over the work.

There has been much debate and community angst over the trees’ possible removal and damage the works have done to the habitat of a number of threatened species that have been identified as being in the area.

The matter has even made it onto the state parliament agenda with Greens environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, asking the Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay a question without notice on Thursday about the destruction of trees. 

Dr Faruqi asked whether Roads and Maritime Services instructed Shoalhaven council to remove trees along Gerroa Road, as earlier claimed by Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash.

“Gerroa Road is a regional road under the care and control of Shoalhaven City Council,” Mr Gay said.

“The tree removal project was proposed, planned and developed by Shoalhaven City Council with Black Spot Program funding from the Commonwealth Government. Roads and Maritime Services has no legislative or regulatory role in that work.”

He said Roads and Maritime Services did not identify road safety issues addressed by this program, nor did it develop solutions to those issues.

“In the five years to June 2013 there were 25 crashes on Gerroa Road between Bolong Road and 300 metres north of Beach Road. Of those, 14 crashes involved injuries to 23 people,” he said.

“Across the state we carefully tried to protect the lives of people who travel along our roads, which includes putting clear spaces near roadways so that if people lose control or spear off, they will have a chance to live and so that the mothers, fathers and children who travel the roads of the state will have an even chance of staying alive. We put the lives of people ahead of other considerations in some circumstances. 

“Like The Greens, we value trees, but occasionally in some circumstances some trees have been identified and removed to save people’s lives. The Greens do not care about the people who travel along our roads. 

“Anyone who travels in the special extended staff car of The Greens — the Prius with the seven members of The Greens in it — would not have this problem.”

Federal rules  not breached, says GM

SHOALHAVEN City Council believes it has complied with everything required under the federal Threatened Species Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act with works being undertaken on Gerroa Road.

General manager Russ Pigg said the council has been in contact with the federal Environment Department over the project.

“Things have been called into question in terms of the environmental reviews undertaken in regards this work,” he said.

“The Federal department was in contact with council last week and was given a copy of all our environmental assessment work.

“They have looked at it in an informal sense, actually looking at the work and they can’t see any reason why the minister would get involved.

“They’ve now confirmed to us that they agree with the council’s recommendation that referral to the department under the act was not warranted.”

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