The St Kilda Rd tree removals have begun. What is particularly sad is the removal of the Elm trees, a species struggling to survive the ravages of the Dutch Elm Beetle and the disease it has spread widely through Melbourne’s famous Boulevards and gardens. In the case of these trees, they were aged well over 100 years old and had significant investment from the Melbourne City Council, the State Government and others in protecting them from the Dutch Elm Beetle disease.
Take a look at the photo in yesterday’s Age Newspaper. The trees have been clear felled and the area is now a scene of devastation – as would be expected of a construction site of this magnitude.
The Heritage listing of the trees by the Federal Government – to be correct, the trees were added to the ‘National History List’ and as of Valentines Day 2018, that’s exactly what they are now – History.
Consider the Architecture of the precinct – Melbourne Grammar, Victoria Barracks, the Shrine of Remembrance and a plethora of medium rise, fairly uninteresting, multi-storey buildings. The elms and plane trees are in fact overriding features of interest on St Kilda Rd and Albert Rd – as well as the Domain Tram Interchange building which harks back to the early 20th Century.
The issue is not the project – the Metro Rail Project. It’s simply the decision – based on pure economics to remove the trees – heritage listed trees, that Heritage Victoria have now given permission to remove.
For a full update, read the article in yesterday’s Age here…
‘Final blow’: tree felling begins on St Kilda Road
Felling has begun to remove dozens of plane and elm trees along Melbourne’s St Kilda Road this week to pave the way for Metro Tunnel project in a move locals say strikes at the heart of the grand boulevard’s identity.
Twenty-six mature trees along St Kilda Road between Toorak Road West and Dorcas Street and from within Albert Road Reserve will be chopped down in the coming days, after works began on Wednesday.
Heritage Victoria on Friday granted permits to remove 60 trees in the area, despite the road recently being permanently added to National History List.
The permit paves the way for 47 trees to be removed from St Kilda Road and 13 from the Albert Road Reserve.
A further twelve trees were cut down in St Kilda Road last year.
It is believed to be among the largest number of trees cut down in one fell swoop in the leafy boulevard’s history. And there’s more to come.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority plans to chop down a total of 95 trees along St Kilda Road, down from 170 following fierce opposition from the community.
However, the Authority will need to obtain more permits to complete the works.
Marilyn Wane, who lives on St Kilda Road, said it was the “final blow.”
“We’re just devastated,” Ms Wane said. “The thing that is most upsetting is that they’ve started with oldest and most valuable assets in the whole area. Those elms trees are part of avenue which has been there for 100 years. They are destroying history.”
Ms Wane also accused the authorities of being “underhanded” by publicly withholding the permits until just hours before the works began on Wednesday afternoon.
“It would be nice if the treated us with respect given it’s our backyard they’re digging up,” she said.
The Authority has promised to plant two trees for every one removed, and says the new trees would be planted in improved soil conditions and with better irrigation.
“We are continuing to investigate reducing this number further however some removal is necessary for a project of this size,” a Metro Railway Authority spokesman said.
Liberal Member for the Southern Metropolitan Region Margaret Fitzherbert accused the government of going for a “cheap and nasty option” despite changing its mind for Swanston Street, which was originally also going to be dug up as part of the project.
“This is going to have a massive impact on the area for years to come,” she said.
Late last year, the Andrews government announced it had signed a $6 billion contract, to build the nine kilometre tunnels and five underground stations with the Cross Yarra Partnership consortium led by Lendlease, and a $1.1 billion contract for high-capacity signalling with CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation.
Draft plans for the new Anzac Station detail a significant transformation of St Kilda Road, and stirred controversy over an new design for bike lanes along the boulevard.
Presently one of our team is awaiting a letter from the Minister for Public Transport M/s Jacinta Allan on an alternative plan for the removal, storage and return of the trees.
It would appear we have missed the bus, tram or train in this instance – the trees are well on the way as a group to oblivion. What a terrible shame for our beautiful city and its most beautiful boulevard. As a somewhat famous outlaw muttered before his death…
“Such is life”