Trees at Tamrookum tagged for destruction

AN Energex proposal to clear about 200 major trees on a 5 kilometre stretch of the Mount Lindesay Highway at Tamrookum has alarmed residents.

​Catriona Kinsey said she first noticed trees had red paint on them in June last year and had become concerned they would be cut down.

Since then, Ms Kinsey said the red marks had been multiplying to at least 200 and she had made inquiries to Energex.

"This is the hypocrisy of bureaucrats and state government at its best," she said.

"They vilify farmers for cutting down trees, while at the same time giving developers, Main Roads and Energex carte blanche to fell trees in their thousands.

"I understand that sometimes it may be unavoidable to fell a tree for safety's sake, but this insidious and to my mind criminal behaviour needs to end.

"All of these departments and private companies need to be held legally responsible for any trees removed when there is absolutely no alternative, and (It should be) mandatory for them to introduce new plantings in the same immediate area."

An Energex spokesman said a new section of powerline near Tamrookum was proposed to improve network reliability.

"When building new sections of the network, Energex always aims to remove the smallest number of trees as possible," he said.

"As we have seen in the recent storms, one tree or even one tree branch falling on power lines can cut electricity supply to thousands of customers.

"Energex has a vegetation management program which has to meet legislative requirements, and is also designed to ensure vegetation clearances to the electricity network meet safety and efficiency standards."

Palen Creek resident Alistair McKay from Australian Bush Buddies said he was familiar with the trees marked for destruction.

He said they were habitat trees for a variety of native animals as well as for some cows and horses in paddocks where the trees provided the only shade.

"I was at the meeting with Energex and there were two things that shocked me," he said.

"First, to learn that the Energex environmental impact report for the area was conducted in-house, so by someone being paid by Energex rather than an independent environment officer, was pretty offensive."

Mr McKay said he had been involved in wildlife advocacy for 45 years and was also a retired electrical contractor.

He said he was also surprised that Energex had not yet explored alternatives to chopping trees down.

"Apparently the poles have to be eight metres from the road edge under new legislation - but that is just absurd because there are many spots where poles are closer than that to the road, and some property fences are closer than that.

"The Energex rep did promise to ask the landholders in the area if they would be happy to have the power poles on their land.

"But the very next day all the road signs went up to say Energex would be causing traffic delays."

An Energex spokesman was unable to confirm that 200 trees were marked for destruction.

"It could well be far fewer than that," he said.

"We are currently looking at alternatives for planned works in the proposed area, where 330 customers, including dairy farmers and primary producers, need a reliable service."

He said it made no difference if the environment report was done in-house or by an independent expert because both would have to adhere to the state government legislation.

"The proposed route has not yet been finalised but Energex is looking at options that will have the least possible impact on vegetation," he said.

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