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Congo protest wins endangered Bangalay trees a 48-hour reprieve

29 November 2021
people gathered on a road

Protesters, police and council staff on-site on Congo Road, Congo. Photo: Region Media.

Residents gathered in Congo today (29 November) to protest against the impending destruction of large old Bangalay trees 10km southeast of Moruya.

These trees, along a gravel road running beside the Congo Sand Quarry just outside of the village of Congo, are part of an endangered Sand Bangalay Forest, providing habitat for the nationally threatened Greater Glider population as well as other native animals that use the hollows as homes.

Eurobodalla Shire Council recently told residents the trees would be removed over five days, starting Monday 29 November.


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The owner of the quarry has previously been denied permission to remove the trees and the gathered residents were concerned that council was undertaking the works in an effort to bypass the laws that protect them.

Quarry owner Roy Shepherd said the trees needed to be removed as he was having difficulty obtaining public liability insurance to cover the roadway through his property.

The section of road through Bangalay forest. Photo: Region Media.

In a letter to residents dated Friday 26 November, council said the trees were a safety risk and needed to be removed.

The speed limit on the road is 40kph and there is no record of an accident on the short stretch that has been used by local residents and visitors for more than 30 years.

The dispute rests on the application of Section 88 of the Roads Act 1993 given the physical road is within private property and the public passes along this road at the discretion of the landowner.


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Under the Act, council may remove or lop any tree or vegetation that is on or overhanging public road. The protest group argued that council intended to remove trees that are not on or overhanging a public road.

Despite the community’s pleas to reconsider these works, the road was closed ahead of the council-contracted tree loppers arriving early this morning.

Protesters

Eurobodalla Shire Council Director of Infrastructure Warren Sharpe speaking to protesters. Photo: Region Media.

Councillor Anthony Mayne was on site and said he was disappointed the issue had progressed during council caretaker mode.

“This should have come to the roads traffic committee, a committee that I chair,” Cr Mayne said.

“The election is six days away. Process, transparency and engagement are clearly an issue here. I support any action being deferred so that a new council can review.”

Four police vehicles arrived and remained on standby during this morning’s gathering, followed by Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Director of Infrastructure Warren Sharpe.

Mr Sharpe told the assembled group, “the council is not here to consult, we are here to inform”.

After a number of questions from the protesters, Mr Sharpe offered to cease work for 48 hours while both parties seek legal advice on the matter.

What's Your Opinion?

6 Responses to Congo protest wins endangered Bangalay trees a 48-hour reprieve

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Maree Burdett Maree Burdett 1:50 am 03 Dec 21

Why is it even a question??
FFS we lost soo much habitat in the fires, there’s hardly ANYWHERE left for the wildlife and its going to be YEARS before it grows back. PLEASE DONT DESTROY THEM.

Alice Scott Alice Scott 8:24 pm 30 Nov 21

To fell these trees would be an environmental disaster for their great age, and their habit for small animals (one in particular endangered).

S. Jackson S. Jackson 1:49 pm 30 Nov 21

We can easily keep to the 40kph speed limit for a few hundred metres. Leave well alone and all will be well. 48 hours? What can be done in that time? Here’s a snippet from ABC Landline –

“If you thought it was taking too long to get a new home constructed in Australia, imagine waiting 100 years. 🏡​

This accommodation crisis is unrelated to pandemic supply shortages. It’s just that that’s how long it takes for a hollow to naturally form in a tree for around 300 native species that rely on them for survival.“

We’re not the only species struggling.

colin sagar colin sagar 10:07 pm 29 Nov 21

I reside in Bega Valley Shire. I love visiting Congo and do so often. The natural tone of the village is a real gem and should be treasured not trashed. I have served on joint ESC and BVSC committees. Eurobodalla Shire was once well respected for its community consultation and environmental credentials.

It is absolutely outrageous for this destruction to be threatened whilst Council is in care-taker mode with just days to the election. Council operatives may even be opening themselves and / or Council to legal action.

There needs to be proper community consultation on this matter. Have our indigenous community been consulted?

If we can slow down for our children outside school and for our aged near care facilities and if we can have reduced speed through shopping centers, then surely we can have a well considered and effective reduced speed zone through a short section of our precious natural heritage.

Since when do insurance concerns negate proper process with regard to community consultation and the protection of endangered species?

This section of road forms a wonderful entry to the village and serves an essential safety role in slowing cars prior to the local traffic and pedestrian areas. The Shire needs to be cognizant of the importance of this entry to Congo – its safety, character and charm, and consider compulsory acquisition of the private property if necessary.

The fate of this beautiful entry to Congo must be decided by legitimate elected Council representatives….And that means delaying consideration until after Saturday’s election.

Vicki Vicki 4:41 pm 29 Nov 21

Sadly the trees will go,regardless of the delay.Councils or any Gov dept gets their way eventually…..at the cost of destroying wildlife habitat.So very sad for the animals.

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