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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Lennox Head Moreton Bay Fig tree removal sparks protest

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Morton Bay Fig tree on Castle Drive, Lennox Head. Photo Jenny Grinlington

A large and well established Moreton Bay Fig tree on Castle Drive, Lennox Head, is earmarked for removal by Ballina Shire Council, sparking the ire of an independent councillor and a resident.

Councillor Jeff Johnson told Echonetdaily that it could be up to 200 years old and was shocked to learn that fellow councillors had voted for its removal. Cr Johnson says he was unwell and could not vote at the last meeting when it was before Council.

‘This issue has been before Council around four times and was often discussed in a confidential session. I have always voted against its removal’. 

‘This tree was there first and is a significant feature of the area. Council should be doing all it can to reduce the damage to canopy.’

Cr Johnson says Council’s cheif engineer John Truman advised him the removal is planned for Monday or Tuesday.

He said, ‘The property owner is somewhat responsible for this… there is a building under the canopy of the tree. Council could have done more to save this tree.’

Cr Johnson says the tree is located on Council managed land and has been used by the community for events over the years.

‘I think this decision was driven by Council’s insurers, who may have said to councillors: “we are not going to cover Council”. It probably spooked councillors.’

Neighbour Jenny Grinlington told Echonetdaily, ‘Ballina Council has approved this without any community consultation and only yesterday advised neighbours to be “patient” while works were happening this coming Monday to remove it.’

‘I suspect it has gone quietly under the radar because there could be a backlash from the community. Council’s arborists have been keeping the canopy maintained over the years.’

Ms Grinlington says, ‘I am emotional about this but also angry. How long will it be before every shred of our local Big Scrub heritage has been eliminated? This is a sorry Christmas gift for our community.

‘I’m happy to be involved in a campaign to save it.’

Ms Grinlington believes a neighbouring property owner – not affected by the tree – threatened Council with legal action unless it was removed.

Ms Grinlington says she is happy to be contacted and help with efforts to save the tree. Her number is 0420 543 257.

Cr Johnson also said he was also happy to help with those efforts. His number is 0438 677 202.

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  1. Damn right there will be a back lash!
    First trees in Byron, now Lennox?
    Move the damn building and let the tree recover! That beautiful tree is irreplacable!
    Does Bob Brown know yet that another part of the Big Scrub is being threatened?
    It beggars belief that anyone would come to this area and not appreciate its natural wonders. Go live in the city if you don’t like trees!

  2. ‘A large and well established Moreton Bay Fig tree on Castle Drive, Lennox Head, is earmarked for removal by Ballina Shire Council, sparking the ire of an independent councillor and a resident’. According to the Echo, Councillor Jeff Johnson …’was shocked to learn that fellow councillors had voted for its removal.

    That’s all well and good, but what about Councillor Johnson’s support for the removal of several large old Melaleuca trees around the eastern side of Lake Ainsworth?

    Readers will recall that a proposal to chop these trees down was ghosted through council a a few days before the eastern road was due to be closed last year. Only thanks to the community protest on 15 February 2017 were these trees saved. Sadly, we can be sure that if the road closure goes ahead these trees will soon be chopped down.

    As part of the community consultation process, to protect these trees (as well as lake access) all those who protested in February 2017 (www.echo.net.au/2017/02/lennox-takes-street-lake-road/) have until 29 January 2018 to address a short submission to the council opposing the lake development plan on the feedback link at https://www.ballina.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-CDG-37-37-62. .

    The council web page states that any submissions become public record. This is intimidating. However, a simple statement such as the following will do.

    As a resident/regular user of Lake Ainsworth I strongly oppose the proposed closure of the eastern road. The eastern road makes the lake easily accessible to the elderly, the disabled and mothers with children. Also, the current road enables regular police patrols which curtail anti social behavior. The large protest against the Eastern Road closure on 15 February 2017 (www.echo.net.au/2017/02/lennox-takes-street-lake-road/) highlighted overwhelming community opposition to the proposed development. I urge you to comply with the wishes of the community and withdraw the proposed development of Lake Ainsworth and closure of the eastern road.

    Its simple, to stop the development each protester needs to send a short email. Which a lot easier than marching up the street on a hot day.


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