SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council will press on with its plans to remove some large Monterey Cypress trees from Yanakie Caravan Park, despite strong opposition from some of the park’s regular visitors. At the council meeting last Wednesday the vote to grant a permit for the removal of vegetation at the newly council-managed park was swift and unanimous.
Introducing the motion, Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said, “The strength of the argument is all that matters, not a gallery full of people.”
He was referring to a presentation made to Council on the morning of the meeting by caravan site-holder Joe Price, cheered on by a dozen or so supporters.
Claiming he represented the views of a large number of site-holders, Mr Price argued that there was no need for the trees to be removed. He asserted that they were only being removed so that Council could construct a row of cabins. That, he said, was the “hidden agenda”. “This is not a planning permit application, this is a conspiracy!” he exclaimed. He said a lot more besides, including raising accusations of a “web of deceit” on the part of shire staff and shire councillors. He wound up his tirade with: “Your office has behaved in a less than ethical manner and if you endorse the application you’ll bring nothing but shame on the shire.”
His presentation did nothing to persuade councillors to his point of view. Cr Hutchinson-Brooks said that it was “completely untrue and strategically unwise – what he said and the way he said it, with arguments based on falsehood and emotion”.
Cr Mohya Davies said that she supported the granting of a permit to remove vegetation, but suggested a staged removal would be best to reduce the impact on the caravan park.
The permit comes with a list of conditions, including replacement planting with indigenous vegetation appropriate to the area and starting the development within two years and completing it within four years. The revegetation must be completed within 28 days of the removal of vegetation.