Ring bark damage, to a number of non-native trees on the road near the Bracks Bridge picnic area, was recently reported to Council and is currently being investigated.
Deep chainsaw cuts have been made around the base of the trees, with removal of the bark between the cuts. The trees, of various sizes and ages, are located on the Howes Creek – Goughs Bay Road near the popular picnic area on the Delatite River.
Council is not aware of any prior communications nor permits regarding this work and a ‘Works within a Road Reserve’ permit should have been obtained from Council, as the road authority for this location.
Officers from Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have been contacted by Council and have verified that the particular trees are not native, are Robinia pseudoacacia (north America not Africa) also known by the common name ‘black locust’ and they are known for suckering, are thorny and have brittle branches. Council has been advised that all parts of the plant are poisonous.
Mayor Mark Holcombe said “Council does not support work undertaken without a permit on a public road however acknowledges the circumstances in this situation involve trees that are considered an invasive plant and an environmental weed.
“Bracks Bridge is a very popular spot on the river and our first priority is public safety. An assessment of the risk due to the damage to the trees has been arranged,” he said.
Kevin Murphy, Senior Coordinator Community Safety explained that the risk assessment will determine whether the damaged trees need to be felled, with the appropriate permit and traffic management plan in place. He confirmed Council Officers have had discussions with the person who undertook the work.
“Anyone proposing to remove trees should always enquire with Council to verify if permits or other approvals are required. Fines and or charges can apply to individuals who damage or remove trees without the appropriate permission,” said Kevin.
There is a requirement under the Road Management Act 2004 that directs a person proposing to undertake works in, on, under or over a road to first obtain a permit from the Road Management Authority – in this case Council.
Council’s Local Law No.1 titled Amenity, Environment and Community Protection Local Law also makes it an offence to ‘Destroy, damage, foul, interfere with or deface anything located in or on the place’.