Petition to keep trees fails

A Kyneton Showgrounds netball facility expansion will see the removal of 10 english elm trees.

Plans for Kyneton Showgrounds Master Plan will progress despite strong objection to the removal of 10 english elm trees.

The master plan includes a netball facility expansion but the preferred site option would remove the mature elms.

A petition with 996 signatures has called for the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to consider an option that allow the upgrade while retaining the trees.

“Option two retains the elm trees, future-proofs the netball project with the possibility of three courts instead of just two and, in addition, could make the expansion of facilities adjacent the lower oval a huge positive for a diverse range of sporting and recreational users,” the petition stated.

The petition was presented to the council last week and follows a ruling at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal that enabled the plan to progress.

MRSC’s director of assets and operations, Shane Walden, said the master plan had been carefully considered with input from user groups, community members, and expert advice.

“Option two was not deemed suitable as there were issues with the siting of the netball courts,” he said.

“It had poor passive surveillance and does not link the netball activities with the football activities. It also creates a conflict with different asset uses.”

Mr Walden said, of the trees to be impacted, an arborist report showed two had less than five years life expectancy and two had less than 10 years life expectancy. Others have signs of ill-health and decline.

“Caring for these trees in their late life stages would be costly and only provide for a limited additional lifespan. The better course of action is their removal with a plan to replace them within the reserve,” he said.

“Even if, arguably, one arborist took a pessimistic outlook on the remaining useful life of the trees and the other an optimistic outlook, the council has still identified a risk and needs to take a financially sustainable action to manage that risk.”

Councillors agreed that works at the showgrounds should progress as stipulated in the master plan but acknowledged the decision was not made lightly.

“The trees are a much-loved and treasured part of the Kyneton streetscape, but, like all things, they are not going to last forever,” Cr Mark Ridgeway said.

“Like it or not, we have a report that was prepared by an expert in the field that tells us that at least seven out of 10 of these trees are in very poor condition, and experience tells us that trees in poor condition are not safe.”