The chopping down last Friday of two casuarina trees next to a popular bench seat and table at the entrance to the river mouth south wall next to Torakina beach at Brunswick Heads has outraged residents.
The unannounced removal of the two trees by contractors, which had not been fenced off or signs announcing their fate posted, horrified some of the onlookers at the crowded Torakina beach nearby.
But a spokesperson for Byron Shire Council says the trees, on crown land were considered dangerous and had been the subject of several complaints.
The spokesperson said council had referred the complaints and ‘concern over potential for falling limbs’ to the Office of Environment and Heritage agency in Grafton,
‘Trees that are dead, dying or dangerous can be removed with the approval of Council. In this instance no approval was sought and Council will follow-up with the department.’
‘However, it is likely that approval would have been given as they were considered dangerous,’ the council spokesperson told Echonetdaily, which is yet to hear from the OEH on the incident).
A spokesperson for NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust, which controls holiday parks and public reserves in the riverside town, was baffled when told about the incident, saying the trust had recently put protocols in place to inform locals of any planned removal of trees and to fence and signpost them if they were to be lopped or felled.
But it seems the state department which has overall control of crown lands and the beachisde reserve near the tourist magnet of Torakina Park was unaware of that protocol.
The trust’s move to better consult with locals was sparked by several incidents this year where trees in public parks had been earmarked or chopped down without any public notice and others.
The fate of historic memorial trees at the Terrace Reserve, now fenced off from caravan park users and marked for regular health and risk assessment, had also caused concern.