BEARING UP: Colbie Cameron and Sarah Cassidy are keen to save Maclean’s camphor laurel trees.
BEARING UP: Colbie Cameron and Sarah Cassidy are keen to save Maclean’s camphor laurel trees. Debrah Novak

Chance for iconic McLachlan Park trees after motion

THE persistence of a grassroots campaign to save Maclean's iconic camphor laurel trees has seemingly paid off with the issue set to be put back on the council agenda.

Clarence Valley councillor Margaret McKenna lodged a notice of motion last Tuesday in an attempt to save three of the four historic trees earmarked for removal from McLachlan Park.

Residents will have a chance to air their thoughts at a corporate governance and works committee meeting in Maclean at 3pm tomorrow before the motion goes to a vote at next week's Clarence Valley Council meeting.

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Cr McKenna said she lodged the notice after a number of issues about the proposed removal were brought to her attention.

The Greater Maclean Community Action Group has been the main instigator in the fight to save the trees. A petition circulated by the group has attracted more than 1500 signatures in the past four months.

"The community have still been quite hopeful and persistent," Cr McKenna said.

"When I went back and did some research on community consultation there was a survey about removing one or two of the trees but never any community consultation about removing all four trees at the park.

"This will give an opportunity for the whole community to have input into this decision."

Camphor laurel trees are an invasive species but Cr McKenna said she doubted that the Department of Primary Industries would declare the four trees noxious weeds.

Cr McKenna said guide-lines indicated the control of a weed must provide a benefit to the community over and above the cost of implementing the control program.

Cr McKenna was one of four councillors who in November opposed a concept plan for the McLachlan Park upgrade that included the removal of all four trees.

In a 50-50 split, the motion for the plan was carried on the mayor's casting vote.

"I asked acting general manager Troy Anderson last week if there was a time for the removal of the trees and he said possibly September so I thought I better act now," Cr McKenna said.

GMCAG member Nikki Holmes said she remained hopeful that all four trees would be saved.

"So many people have memories of climbing the trees," she said.

"They are among the oldest living things in Maclean and the removal of them, and then paying for mature trees, doesn't make sense.

"Why plant new ones when they're already there?

Ms Holmes said she was concerned about invasive plant species but couldn't see how the removal of the four trees would positively impact the Clarence Valley's fight against noxious weeds.

"These four trees should be the last to go," she said.

"Take the young ones out, that's fine, but don't touch the mature, historic ones."