Treetop fight for tuarts

ENVIRONMENTAL group Forest Rescue have flagged treetop protests to stop tuarts being felled during the $118 million upgrade of High Street in Fremantle.

On Tuesday the Environmental Protection Authority announced its approval for the roadworks, saying Main Roads’ commitment to saving as many large trees as possible had been a factor in the decision.

Slightly more than 0.5 hectares will be cleared by Main Roads, but Forest Rescue, which has been based at the FERN community centre on the corner of High and Montreal Streets, says some of the biggest and most important trees along the strip will be affected.

Spokesperson Simon Peterffy said they had set up treetop defences when the Perth Freight Link was first proposed and he expects there’ll be plenty of local anger and volunteers “if push comes to shove”.

“We have asked Main Roads to relook at their plan, or it could be Roe 8 on steroids,” Mr Peterffy told the Herald.

“Have a look at the one tuart on Healy Road and all the people that were prepared to take a stand to protect it–this is Fremantle.”

Mr Peterffy said Forest Rescue had met with advisors for planning minister Rita Saffioti to raise their concerns about the tuarts: “We said from the outset we would not put up with the destruction of the tuarts.

Offsets

“But we were concerned a couple of months ago about the general statements that were being made about this project and the lack of information about exactly how many trees would be affected, and now we’ve got this EPA report.

“That’s not going to go down well in Fremantle.”

Mr Peterffy said Forest Rescue would consider offsets if only a few trees had to make way for the project, given the importance of the existing trees as habitat for black cockatoos.

But the EPA makes no reference to providing offsets.

EPA chair Tom Hatton says his organisation made additional recommendations to reduce the project’s impact on cockies, including a ban on food sources being planted within 10 metres of traffic.

“Main Roads has committed to retaining as many mature native and non-native trees as possible by widening a planned median strip, as well as proposing to build noise walls to offer residents protection from traffic noise,” Dr Hatton said.

The EPA has also recommended Main Roads consult with the community about the size and configuration of the noise walls.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt told the Herald that while Main Roads’ plan wasn’t “perfect”, he thought that it had worked with the council to save as many mature trees as possible.

by STEVE GRANT

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