Wattle Grove: City of Kalamunda says lemon-scented gums can’t be saved

Wattle Grove: City of Kalamunda says lemon-scented gums can’t be saved

THE City of Kalamunda has been unsuccessful in finding a way to save an avenue of mature lemon-scented gum trees in Wattle Grove that face the axe.

The 13 trees on Welshpool Road East are scheduled to be cut down next month to create a slip road to access the St Peters Jacobite Syrian Church development, approved by the City of Kalamunda last year.

Mayor Andrew Waddell said the City had been in discussions with the developer, community members and Main Roads WA regarding the trees.

Cr Waddell said after meetings, Main Roads and the City agreed a slip lane was necessary in the interests of road safety, if access was to come off Welshpool Road East.

“Main Roads statistics indicate there have been 127 crashes on Welshpool Road East between Boundary Road and Crystal Brook Road in the last 10 years, which resulted in five fatalities,” he said.

“City staff have also spoken with the developer who advised they were open to considering alternative solutions.

“At this stage the only solution would be for the developer to seek access from another landowner.”

However Cr Waddell said the developer advised it was cost prohibitive.

“It is extremely disappointing that they seem to be putting costs over community safety and the trees,” he said.

“If the developer wished to retain the trees they must consider access other than from Welshpool Road East.

“This is about saving lives. We cannot allow another entry point from Welshpool Road East without controls, as it is not safe.”

An emergency community meeting was held last week which called for the trees to be given state protection.

Save the Gum Trees of Wattle Grove co-ordinator Vanessa Mazza said a petition had already gathered 9000 signatures.

“We need to push for definitive and meaningful laws for tree protection in the face of accelerating urbanisation,” she said.

“The response has been overwhelming with the community and those further afield wanting to protect these beautiful and significant trees.

“After the emergency meeting community members walked to the trees carrying 13 hearts with personalised messages and signatures and staked them near the trees.”

East Metro MLC Tim Clifford said community concerns about the removal of the trees highlighted the need for comprehensive community consultation.

“There must be a better way to ensure safe access to the site and still keep these trees, particularly as the amount of traffic that will access the site is so low and limited to weekends,” he said.

“Why is it so often that trees become the victim to short cuts in planning decisions?

“This welcoming avenue of trees makes a strong entry statement to Lesmurdie.

“It is no longer acceptable for the council to just be perfunctory in its consultation methods especially when it comes to locals and their environment.”

The removal of the trees and road works are due to begin on October 2.