CSELR light rail: Non agreed on tree losses drives Randwick Council to start protest campaign against Government route changes – 25th November 2015

Protests by Greens Lindsay Shurey and Murray Matson that the NSW State Government is not abiding by the spirit of an agreement with Randwick Council has seen Councillors commit money to a protest campaign to protect trees along specific streets of the planned rail line.

The start of tree removals is apparently planned for early January and will include trees that the Council had thought were safe under the painfully negotiated development agreement signed last year.

Councillor Matson said after last night’s Council meeting that:

“The Randwick Green Councillors were always prepared to show good faith by working with the NSW State Government to bring light rail back to Randwick. We understood that trees would have to go. But we also understood that the development agreement that we supported signing was a painfully negotiated scheme for retaining as many as possible of trees along the then identified route. The Greens can not now accept that this route can be changed after the signing to actually force the removal of more trees. We call on the Government to abide by the spirit of the signed agreement and work with the Council to save as many trees as possible.”

Please note that the resolutions below are taken from the draft minutes of two recent meetings of Randwick City Council.

RANDWICK CITY COUNCIL EXPANDED CSELR LIGHT RAIL TREE LOSS RESOLUTION 24th November 2015

That in noting that Light Rail construction work will commence in January 2016 and will result in the destruction and loss of a significant number of established trees through Randwick, including along Alison Road, Wansey Road, High Street and Anzac Parade; this Council:-

  1. acknowledges that the established trees in Randwick threatened by Light Rail construction are a precious part of Randwick’s living environment, synonymous with the Randwick Local area;
  2. calls on the state government to urgently review the design for Light Rail to ensure the trees of Randwick are protected;
  3. expands the current campaign to include identifying each tree threatened by the CSELR, while abiding by the signed development agreement;
  4. delegates authority to the General Manager to fund this campaign from savings identified in the budget; and
  5. notes the tabled submission tonight from the community member who addressed Council on the matter and obtains an urgent legal opinion, prior to the next Council meeting, on the substance of her request that we explore, in addition to our other previous legal avenues, the possibility of a judicial review into the consent granted for the CSELR relating to the protection of trees.

RANDWICK CITY COUNCIL CSELR LIGHT RAIL ALISON ROAD TREE LOSS RESOLUTION 11th November 2015

That Council rejects the intended removal of trees and bike path facilities along the north side of Alison Road that results from the approved modification to the CBD to South East Light Rail consent as both unacceptable and unjustified and;

  1. notes that the tree removals are likely to occur in January and will arouse great and justifiable anguish in the eastern suburbs community;
  2. notes its disappointment that the issue of this consent modification was not flagged with Council until after the signing of the CSELR development agreement;
  3. will seek urgent legal advice on whether Council now has grounds to challenge the consent modification;
  4. calls on the Australian Turf Club to support a revocation of the consent modification so as to enable the light rail lines to be returned back to the south side of Alison Road bordering the racecourse as was the design at the time of the signing of the Development Agreement with Council ;
  5. authorises the spending of $10,000.00 on street signage along Alison Road calling for the saving of the trees by the relocation of the light rail route to the southern side of Alison Road; and
  6. writes to The Hon Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport, State Member for Heffron, Mr Ron Hoenig and State Member for Coogee, Mr Bruce Notley-Smith seeking their support to intervene in good faith on behalf of the community to save the trees and bike path by a return to the design prevailing at the time of the signing of the development agreement.

MOTION: (Shurey/Neilson) CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY – SEE RESOLUTION.

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