City of Cockburn searches for answers after three 60yo trees felled without warning


Pic 1: Cockburn Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes, Mayor Logan Howlett and councillor Phil Eva at the site where the trees were cut down. Pic 2: The three trees prior to being cut down.
Pic 1: Cockburn Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes, Mayor Logan Howlett and councillor Phil Eva at the site where the trees were cut down. Pic 2: The three trees prior to being cut down.

THREE 60-year-old trees have been cut down just weeks out from being added to the City of Cockburn’s Significant Tree Register.

The trio of sugar gums were removed from the corner of Rockingham Road and Coleville Crescent on Saturday, much to the surprise of the City of Cockburn.

An investigation by the City has returned little so far.

The trees were on land owned by the Department of Health (DoH), adjacent to the council’s administration building.

DoH said maintenance of State Government owned property was managed by the Department of Finance’s building management and works division.

However, the Department of Finance says it has no record of authorising the work.

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the City was in discussion with senior staff at DoH’s dental health services sector “on the matter of the process and authorisation for the removal of the trees”.

“The City does not believe that the Department of Finance will be able to add anything to the debate,” he said.

“While City staff and residents feel the frustration of not yet resolving the situation, due process must be followed in checking all and any evidence on this matter before reaching a conclusion on responsibility and possible remedy.”

The lost trees were three of 45 established trees located near Cockburn’s administration site, senior’s centre and the local bowling club which deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes had sought to have added to the City’s tree register.

The public consultation period had finished.

With support from her fellow councillors, the trees were likely to have received entry into the register next month.

Mr Howlett said inclusion of the trees on the register would have meant anyone keen to remove them would have required council approval.

Mrs Reeve-Fowkes was gutted.

“In trying to preserve mature trees and beautify the Rockingham Road-Phoenix precinct, it is particularly galling to see an external State Government decision-maker annihilate our heritage trees in this way,” she said.

Cr Phil Eva likened the tree felling to “vandalism”.

“The trees were a symbol for Cockburn. They were over 60 years old,” he said.

“They’ve grown beautifully and now they’ve been cut down by the State Government.

“It is wanton vandalism. Once we sort this out we want those trees replaced with some pretty large gum trees.”

The three removed trees were numbered one, two and three in a City of Cockburn report sent out for public consultation.

Tree one’s prominent position meant it was noted as “providing a local landmark”.

In the report produced for the July council meeting, a City officer said the 45 trees identified for the register, including the three cut down, were valuable because of their size and age, because they have prominent canopies and because they are in good health.

“In addition, they make a major contribution to the landscape character and are prominent within the immediate precinct,” the officer said.