Level Crossing removals: Heatherdale and Blackburn

What can YOU do to help alleviate the destruction of Blackburn’s Trees and Natural Character?

 NOW is the time to send emails to the following people to show that we are very angry and will NOT sit back and accept this devastation within our community.

If EACH ONE of us sends one email, the politicians and the Level Crossing Authority will be forced to acknowledge that we are a force to be reckoned with!

It only needs to be at least one sentence containing one or more of the following key objectives:

  1. Initiate a genuine consultation process with the Blackburn community and Whitehorse council to lessen the impact of the level crossing removal on the natural character and values of Blackburn Village and surrounds
  2. Adopt strategies to limit further tree removals
  3. Develop, with council and community consultation, a meaningful tree and vegetation re-planting program within the Level Crossing Removal project works zone to re-establish the character of the Blackburn Village
  4. Provide fair and timely compensation (in cash or in kind) for the destruction of mature trees on land owned by Whitehorse council and in private ownership due to the level crossing removal
  5. Implement the necessary strategies such that the tree canopy in Whitehorse will not be diminished due to tree and vegetation losses caused by the removal of level crossings in Whitehorse
  6. Re-locate the shared user path to the northern side of the railway corridor from Laburnum to Nunawading to decrease the numbers of trees that will be lost if the path is built on the southern side.

State Government Politicians:

shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au

luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

jacinta.allan@parliament.vic.gov.au

The Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Authority:

Email contact@levelcrossings.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 762 667.

Media:

  • Email the Whitehorse Leader on this issue. The contact journalist is Paddy Naughtin (email naughtin@news.com.au ).
  • Contact ‘The Age’ and/or ‘Herald-Sun’ newspapers via the Letters to the Editor section or through their Urban Affairs/Environment journalists.

Keep updated via Facebook: www.facebook.com/theblackburnsolution

 

April 2016

Report on Tree Society Negotiations with the Heatherdale LXRA Regarding Project Works on Trees and Vegetation (including the BHRRT between Mitcham and Heatherdale)

A number of meetings, including two site meetings, have been held between the Heatherdale LXRA and the tree society.

In addition the Heatherdale LXRA has provided the tree society access to the Arborist’s report and Tree Management Strategy sheets for the 250 trees impacted by the BHRRT (Brunswick Road Reserve to Heatherdale Road) and the Heatherdale LXR.

In summary, from the report and TMS sheets, for the 250 trees assessed, their fates are listed as:
– 134 (54%) to be removed (some already removed)
– 58 (23%) to be retained and

– 57 (23%) to be re-assessed
– 1 tree (#239), an indigenous Eucalypt has a ‘?’ marked as its fate.

On the face of it this represents a huge number of trees to be removed for the works in question and will have a devastating negative impact on the natural landscape values of Mitcham and Heatherdale.

The tree society is most interested in retaining as many indigenous trees (which represent 125 or 50% of the total trees) as possible with the works.
The next order of priority is the native trees (representing 87 or 35%), followed by the exotic species (26 or 10%) and lastly the woody weeds (12 or 5%).

Woody Weeds

Overall the tree society has no problem with the removal of the 12 woody weeds provided their canopy is replaced with plantings of similar-sized indigenous species locally (i.e. within Mitcham). It is interesting to note that 10 of theses woody weeds are designated for re-assessment for possible retention in the report. The tree society advocates for their removal!

Indigenous Trees

Subsequent to our on-site meetings, of the 81 indigenous trees (65% of the total indigenous trees) slated for removal, some will now be retained. These are mainly located in Brunswick Road Reserve and opposite Linlithgow Avenue. The tree society meeting notes indicate that 21 of the indigenous trees previously slated for removal will now be retained i.e. numbers 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 161,162, 163, 164, 165, 177, 187, 234, 239, 240, 241 and 249 (confirmation of indigenous tree retention numbers from HLXRA has recently been requested but has as yet not received by the tree society).

 

In addition the tree society recently requested the following information:

  • –  The proposed fates for the 60 or so remaining indigenous trees still on the list forremoval – hoping that more can be retained with careful planning and due consideration being given to the trees’ importance in the landscape (tree numbers provided by the tree society)
  • –  What is happening with the16 trees marked for re-assessment (tree numbers provided)? Can most of these trees be retained?
  • –  Confirmation that the 26 indigenous trees listed for retention in the report will retained (tree numbers provided)
  • –  The tree society noted that of particular habitat importance are the 60 or so indigenous trees that are designated as ‘Large Old Trees’ with diameters at breast height (DBH) of 50 cm or greater. The tree numbers for these trees has been provided to the authority and their retention must be considered as being of the Highest Priority.Native TreesOf the 87 native trees, 34 are listed for removal, 27 for retention and 26 for reassessment. The tree society has requested the fates for these trees and supplied tree numbers. The hope is that with careful planning and allowance for their importance, some (many?) of the trees listed for removal can be saved and most of those listed for re-assessment will remain.Exotic Trees

    Of the 26 exotic trees, 16 are listed for removal, 5 for retention and 5 for reassessment. The tree society has requested the fates for these trees and supplied tree numbers.

    Confirmation of the ultimate fates for the 250 trees assessed in the arborist’s report and the Leighton Tree Management Strategy sheets will underpin the overall replacement amenity value ($) of the lost trees as well dictate the requirements of a suitable re-planting program within Whitehorse in terms of tree numbers, tree species, planting locations and planting schedules.

    Yours sincerely

    David Berry
    Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.

 

Blackburn Protest Rally Flyer

Poster #1

Poster #2

Poster #3

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Poster #5

Poster #6

OakTreeBLStGdnsLabelled

 

 

April 2016

Report on Tree Society Negotiations with the Blackburn LXRA Regarding Project Works on Trees and Vegetation

A walkthrough from Cottage Street (at the eastern perimeter of Morton Park) to beyond the commuter car park in South Parade Blackburn was held in late March and attended by Blackburn LXRA and Tree Society representatives.

The objective was to discuss the works’ impacts on trees and vegetation and the potential for minimizing these impacts.

On the face of it the meeting was mutually constructive.

The tree society committee member (David Berry) reported back to community stakeholders, Whitehorse Ward councilors and individuals via email thus:
‘- Following much negotiation LXRA staff have promised that only 17 of the Morton Park pine trees will go (out of a total of 63). These trees need to go mainly because of the installation of large drainage infrastructure underground at the eastern and western ends of the tree stand. The remaining trees need to be pruned for machinery access on the railway side and their health will be monitored over the next few months/years. This is a great result and the authority has promised to work with council, the tree society and BVRG to plan and re-plant locally where possible e.g. in Morton Park itself.
– Only about a third of the quiet courtyard area north of the library will be given over to drainage infrastructure and access works leaving one large, shady tree and a reasonable area near the tennis courts for a quiet lunch spot. This does mean the loss of three trees near Blackburn Road but originally the whole area and its amenity was to be destroyed. The authority has also promised to help with soft landscaping adjacent to the path and tennis courts (no trees though). – The news is not good through the Blackburn Station Gardens though (which is railway land!). The authority will re-locate the palm trees (easy to do as they are monocots) however most other vegetation will go because of drainage works thru the centre of the gardens. The vegetation to go includes many woody weeds but also substantial trees (many planted by community working- bees organised by the Tree Society and local traders in the 1990s-2000s). The ‘best’ trees to go include Blackwoods (4-6), Black Wattles, Lightwoods, Casuarinas (2-3), a magnificent Banksia, a number of Lilly Pillys, at least two substantial Oak Trees and a large Eucalypt at the western end of the South Parade car park. We’ve managed to extract a promise to save a couple of Gleditsias near the rotunda and the Eucalypt pauciflora nearby and possibly a couple of others. The second Eucalyptus pauciflora near the playground has Bracket Fungus and needs to be removed. Another Eucalypt near the western end of the car park can be saved. The authority has promised that many of the trees on the embankment west of the playground will remain.

– The LXRA is supportive of council, the tree society, BVRG, local traders and Rotary being involved in discussions/decisions re landscaping the gardens subsequent to works’ completion. This will be an interesting exercise as these gardens have historic ‘English’ and Victorian-era vegetation elements as well as native/indigenous plantings (the latter occurring more recently).

– At the end of a site meeting with LXRA reps yesterday I stated that whilst the tree society and community wasn’t at all happy with the loss of so much vegetation, we need to look at this as an opportunity to work together to make the gardens even better in the medium- to long-term.

– I also thanked the LXRA reps for their willingness to consult and compromise (albeit after substantial community agitation and at a late stage of works’ planning!)
Further meetings will be held over the next few weeks but major works and disruption will occur very soon.’

As a courtesy this community report was forwarded to the Blackburn LXRA that prompted a telephone call almost immediately refuting many of the points made in the report and followed by an email of similar tenor (which due to a confidentiality clause attached to the email has not been reproduced here).

A tree society response was made the following day as follows:

‘Following our telephone conversation yesterday and your subsequent email report on the current status of tree and vegetation impacts resulting from the Blackburn LXR and on behalf of the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc. I will:

– Publicly retract my report to tree society members, community and council as circulated soon after our site meeting/walkthrough (and sent to you yesterday) and apologise for raising their hopes that the tree and vegetation impacts have been in any way lessened by the tree society’s negotiations with BLXRA representatives

– Make sure that any reports in future contain information obtained from the BLXRA in writing such that it cannot subsequently be disputed by the BLXRA
– Include in the next report (to tree society members, community, council, local politicians and the media) the current status for impacts on the existing trees and vegetation around the BLXR project, which are:
1. Morton Park Pine Trees – 17 of the 63 trees will definitely be removed and the remaining trees are all under threat of removal subject to a ‘process of determining which of the remaining pine trees in Morton Park are able to be retained. We cannot guarantee that the trees can safely remain where they are until we progress further with detailed designs and investigations.’ (BLXRA quote).
2. The trees to be retained by the LXRA between Cottage Street (eastern section of Morton Park) and the railway embankment to the west of the South Parade car park as stated in writing by the LXRA are 2 Gleditsias near the Rotunda and 1 Eucalypt at the western end of the Blackburn Station Gardens adjacent to the car park.
3. This means a total of 130+ substantial trees will be either be removed or, subject to receiving further information in writing from the BLXRA, will probably be removed to make way for BLXR works.

 

This doesn’t include substantial shrub and under-storey plantings in the station gardens.
NB Many trees have already been removed including those adjacent to the tennis courts and along the railway reserve.

Of particular importance in the Blackburn Station Gardens are trees numbered 774, 779, 795, 828, 838, 901 and 916 and important species represented include

Eucalypts (5), Blackwoods (7), She-oaks (3), Oak Trees (2), Palm Trees (4),

Gleditsias (2), Lilly Pillys (2), a Banksia (1) and a Black Wattle (1).
In addition there are 2 Eucalypts, 1 large Bottlebrush and an expansive shady Lilly Pilly (?) in the library courtyard.
4. Despite numerous requests from the tree society committee and other community groups and individuals there has been:
– No arborist report for the Blackburn LXRA works area provided (or made accessible) to the community,
– No information forthcoming on the totality of trees and vegetation to be retained, removed or re-assessed
– No information on protection for retained trees/vegetation during BLXR works as per the CEMP
– No details about replacement plantings, species, locations or time-lines as per the CEMP
– In fact to our knowledge the CEMP has yet to be completed!

This report will be sent out to the tree society members and the wider community etc. next Tuesday morning.
However the report will be amended prior to distribution should further relevant and credible information in writing be received from the BLXRA by COB next Monday (18 April 2016).’

I have yet to receive a response from this latest email to the Blackburn LXRA. I will be distributing this report by tomorrow at the latest.

In addition, community representatives have raised the issue of the historic importance of the low bluestone retaining wall at the western end of the South Parade car park.
Well-known landscape designer (Bev Hanson) was consulted as to the wall’s history and provenance and concluded that the wall was of high historic and aesthetic value and should be spared with any project works in its immediate vicinity. The tree society committee has requested confirmation from the Blackburn LXRA that no works will negatively impact this bluestone wall.

David Berry
Committee
Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. 19 April 2016

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