West Gate Tunnel contractors have cleared up to 70 semi-mature trees at the urban forest to the north of GJ Hosken Reserve in Altona North, allegedly upsetting Hobsons Bay City Council.
It is understood the trees were cleared to make way for a temporary construction compound required by the Western Distributor Authority, the authority delivering the West Gate Tunnel Project.
In a statement, Hobsons Bay City Council said there had been discussions with the project’s contractor, but claimed there were further discussions to be had with an arborist before any trees were to be removed.
“No action was to be taken until Council’s arborist had advised the Authority which trees could be removed. However, the trees were removed without Council’s knowledge on the morning of Friday 8 June,” the statement read.
The urban forest, established in the 1980’s, is part of a reforestation area along Kororoit Creek. It is claimed some of the trees lost were up to 30 years old, a loss that might be felt most by the volunteer public planters at Friends of Lower Kororoit Creek.
Hobsons Bay Mayor Angela Altair described the loss of the trees as “highly disappointing” and suggested the Council would be following the matter up with the State Government for an explanation and discussion on restitution of the site.
“We’re just at the start of a four year project but already people are feeling sceptical about the assurances we’ve received that our local assets will be protected and maintained,” Cr Altair said.
“It is in the best interests of this community for the Western Distributor Authority to work respectfully with their Council. We certainly hope they will listen to the needs and wants of this community in future.”
It is understood the Council’s claims will be heard at the the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 12 June at 7pm at the Altona Civic Centre, where Councillors will provide further discussion on the matter.