An overview of some of the building work at the new jail site.
An overview of some of the building work at the new jail site. Adam Hourigan

Ecologist claims jail landscaper has chosen weeds for job

CLARENCE Valley ecologist Dr Greg Clancy is alarmed at some of the plant choices for landscaping proposed at the new Grafton jail.

Dr Clancy said a proposal to include avenues of jacarandas, crepe myrtles, golden rain (flame) trees and cabbage palms at the jail conerned him.

"The only one of these that is not an environmental weed is the cabbage palm and this may not grow in the dry environment of the site anyway," he daid.

Dr Clancy, who is also a Greens councillor on Clarence Valley Council, said he attended a meeting with staff of Serco and John Holland and quizzed them about the provenance of plants to be used at the jail.

"The location of the facility is in an area that contains numerous threatened flora and fauna species and the jail could assist in their survival by the planting of appropriate local species of plants," Dr Clancy said.

"In addition locally occurring plants would survive better and need less water and other attention."

A spokeswoman from construction overseer Infrastructure NSW, said it was aware of Dr Clancy's views and disputed some of his claims.

"Within the secure perimeter for the correctional centre, a number of Australian native trees are proposed to be planted including the bottlebrush, banksia, melaleuca, spotted gum and cabbage tree palm which are all considered appropriate for the area," she said.

"Grafton's much-loved jacaranda tree and the crepe myrtle are also proposed within the site.

"Outside of the secure perimeter, there will be extensive planting of native trees, shrubs and grasses such as the spotted gum and forest red gum which are common native species to the local area.

"There is no intention to plant golden rain trees or flame trees."

Dr Clancy said he has received an invitation to meet the horticulturist at the site and discuss his objections further.