The fig tree in Bentinck St, Ballina.
The fig tree in Bentinck St, Ballina. Blainey Woodham

Council may give a fig

A DECISION to chop down a 13m high fig tree in Bentinck St, Ballina, will be reconsidered at the next council meeting.

It is believed the mature tree is at least 80 years old.

But last week the council resolved to cut it down, because it is affecting nearby private properties and stormwater drains.

A report to council indicated the fig tree's roots were cracking stormwater pipes, blocking sewer mains, lifting pavement and damaging concrete slabs.

Council staff also said there were site constraints which limited the opportunity for remediation options, such as root barriers.

But Cr Sue Meehan is passionate about saving the tree, and she is enlisting the help of her fellow councillors, including Cr Robyn Hordern, to lodge a rescission motion to stop it being cut down.

"I really think we need to relook at it," she said.

"In the first instance, we should consider remediation options."

A ratepayer who lives near the tree said its roots were causing damage to stormwater drains and parts of his property.

But he said he loved the giant tree and would like to see it saved.

"If there's anything that can be done, that would be great, because it is beautiful," he said.

"We just need to resolve the other issues."

Cr Meehan said she was worried that if the Bentinck St fig was cut down, it could set a precedent for other problematic trees in the shire.

"I am passionate about keeping these fig trees," she said.

"No maintenance has ever been done, and some of them are 80 or 90 years old.

"We need to take better care of them so they don't cause issues.

"These are beautiful trees which are an important part of our urban landscape in Ballina."

A fig tree near the Ballina tennis courts will also be investigated to see if root barrier can be installed.

The council is planning to establish a "priority order of need" to manage two to three fig trees in the urban environment every year, following a best practice program of care.

In addition, an urban tree planting program will be adopted, with five trees a month to be planted.



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