The West

Tree lovers fight to halt council chainsaws
No risk: Lisa Shearon and her children Frankie,2, and Alice, 1, with Eliane Williams and the fig trees that the Wanneroo council is trying to remove. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

Councils that vote to remove trees against expert advice are facing opposition from residents who want to preserve them.

For the second time in as many months, a Perth council faces a showdown with residents over plans to remove healthy and structurally sound trees.

In each case the council went against advice from the administration, based on expert reports, only to face a public backlash.

The City of Wanneroo will tonight consider rescinding a decision to remove 13 45-year-old fig trees from Russell Road, Madeley, after more than 1500 residents signed a petition to save them.

Council voted in June to remove the trees after a 35- signature petition raised safety concerns, though a committee recommended keeping the trees.

An arboriculturist report found the trees were in good health, fair structural condition and posed an estimated one in 500,000 chance of dangerous tree or limb failure in the next year.

The report said options for long-term viability could include removing every second tree to develop a more sustainable branch structure in the others.

The case echoed a recent stoush in Guildford when the City of Swan tried to remove two trees from a park despite a report that found they were structurally sound and the risks involved in keeping them were low.

The council was first petitioned to remove them and voted to do so in March but reversed the decision in June after an outcry.

Madeley resident Lisa Shearon, who has campaigned to save the Russell Road trees, said it was odd for Wanneroo council to go against the advice of its administration, which produced a comprehensive report that said the trees posed no risk.

"They said, 'These are the risks - there are no risks. Let's carry on as we are with the same amount of maintenance - it's working', but for some reason 14 councillors ignored that and said, 'No, they've got to go'," Ms Shearon said. Wanneroo mayor Tracey Roberts said the council was "a listening council" and would consider both sides.

Swan chief executive Mike Foley said councillors considered public opinion and all other information presented, including reports from officers and experts and the opinions of councillors during debate.

The West Australian

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