Alstonville resident Ian Cooke has managed to stop nine historic fig trees being chopped down … for now.
The trees, near Alstonville Public School and St Joseph’s Primary School, were set to be removed last week as part of a NSW Department of Education school tree safety campaign.
The campaign followed the death of Bridget Wright, 8, who was killed by a falling tree branch at Pitt Town public school, in Sydney’s west, in February.
Focus on the Alstonville trees intensified just days after the death when a branch from one of the trees narrowly missed a student and teacher.
And while a subsequent Department of Education-led investigation found they were unsafe, Mr Cooke’s legal action in the NSW Land and Environment Court has stalled the removal plans.
As a result, further investigations will be carried out on the trees to establish whether they are in fact dangerous.
Mr Cooke, a 74-year-old former student at Alstonville Public School, grew up playing in the trees that have been earmarked for the chop.
He is backed in his fight by numerous parents and teachers at the school, and a petition has been circulating.
It’s understood that the trees have twice been assessed by an arborist, with both reports recommending that the trees not be removed.
In the 2013 report, the risk of harm posed by the trees was assessed at one in 1.2 million while in a 2014 report by the same arborist, the risk was put at one in 62,000.