Digging in against tree change

TYERS residents are pleading with Latrobe City Council to reject a roadworks planning permit set to remove vulnerable Strzelecki Gums and native fauna.

However, council has not responded to a detailed list of the residents’ concerns provided by The Express.

“The planning application is still in the preliminary stages of assessment and as a result no opinion in relation to the merits of the application has been formed by Latrobe City Council in relation to this matter,” the council’s statement read.

Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group member Jim Stranger and Land for Wildlife member Irene Proebsting are objecting to a road alignment on the north side of the Latrobe River.

VicRoads intends to remove more than a hectare of native vegetation. Their report states the area includes 90 vulnerable Strzelecki gums and habitat for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater and endangered Growling Grass Frog.

“We really think this is overkill,” Ms Proebsting said.

However, Ms Proebsting said she did not object to the permit’s intentions to alter the Bluff Causeway Bridge or the new road alignment on the south side of the river.

She instead suggests the road authority lower the speed limit and replace safety barriers to spare the flora and fauna habitat.

“Wouldn’t it be possible to increase safety by placing Armco steel or cable barriers on the existing road on the north side of the river, and reducing speed limits, thereby negating the need for road alignment of 15 large gum trees”, she said in her letter to the council.

Mr Stranger said the proposal was environmentally damaging.

“They say they’re trying to minimise the damage, but we think there is a way this can be done where the damage is negligible,” he said.

In a statement VicRoads eastern region director Scott Lawrence said he recognised the environmental value of native vegetation and detailed consideration had been given to minimise the impact while providing a safe road alignment.

“The removal of vegetation is necessary to enable the construction of a new bridge over the Latrobe River and to remove sharp curves, particularly north of the bridge,” Mr Lawrence said.

He said the design had been refined to steepen the sides of the road formation to minimise impact on vegetation.

“These changes have reduced the impact on vegetation from approximately 2.1 hectares to 1.365 hectares, with a significant reduction in impact on Strzelecki Gums from 120 to 90.”

Objections to the proposal must be made in writing via latrobe@latrobe.vic.gov.au or Latrobe City Council offices by 13 September.