A number of South Bathurst residents rallied together at Bant Street on Tuesday morning to campaign against the removal of five 100-year-old oak trees, calling for greater public consultation and protection regarding the management of the trees.
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However, the five trees, situated between 56 and 58 Bant Street, lie just outside the Bathurst/ West Bathurst Heritage Conservation Area where Bathurst Regional Council has a tree preservation order in place.
Work was paused on the site early Tuesday morning after South Bathurst resident Cathie Hale raised the issue with workers taking action on the trees.
"I talked to the tree lopper, and even he thought it was madness that such trees were being cut down," Ms Hale said.
"While the trees are on private property and the site lies just outside the Heritage Conservation Area, these trees are important on so many levels, from animal habitat to environmental cooling.
"It's about time council's outdated tree preservation order was updated to include all sorts of trees, wherever they are; not many trees get to 100 years old anymore with the way the climate is."
Bathurst councillor Margaret Hogan said she was distressed to see mature oaks being cut down along Bant Street, but stressed the owner of the property wasn't in breach of council policy.
"This is privately owned land and isn't in the Heritage Conservation Area highlighted by council, therefore there is no tree preservation order required and the property owner is legally within their rights to do this," Cr Hogan said.
"According to the advice I received from council, no planning approval or engineering approval was required for the site, but we'd be having a very different conversation if the trees were on council-owned land or within a Heritage Conservation Area."
Cr Hogan said she has called on fellow councillors to support a working party to revisit the Heritage Tree Preservation and Management Policy, which was last revised in 2013.
"The world has changed in the last 10 years, and so have attitudes towards wildlife preservation, so I feel this is something that deserves another look over," she said.
South Bathurst resident and keen bird photographer Tim Bergen, who was among concerned locals on Tuesday morning, said the Bant Street oaks are prime habitat for a number of species.
"Most afternoons I see yellow-tailed black cockatoos flying here, and king parrots, bats and various other birds use these trees for shelter; they're part of our environment, and you just can't chop 100-year-old trees down," Mr Bergen said.
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