Wollongong trees 'mutilated' by energy firm

Endeavour Energy's handiwork on Smith Street in Wollongong. Pictures: SYLVIA LIBER

Endeavour Energy's handiwork on Smith Street in Wollongong. Pictures: SYLVIA LIBER

A group of Wollongong residents has accused electricity provider Endeavour Energy of ‘‘wanton mutilation’’ when it comes to pruning trees lining the city’s streets.

At their last meeting, members of Neighbourhood Forum 5 resolved to ask Wollongong City Council to intervene in the energy company’s tree pruning program, saying the company needed to ‘‘stop the wanton mutilation of street trees and introduce a sensitive tree pruning program’’.

Forum convenor David Winterbottom said concerns about the tree ‘‘mayhem’’ arose during the Keiraville-Gwynneville community plan development, with many residents valuing their suburbs’ leafiness.

He said members of the forum had noticed trees were being cut back more than necessary to allow the energy company to save time and money.

Endeavour Energy sets out to strike ‘'the right balance between the aesthetics of the tree and keeping the branches a safe distance away from the power lines''.

Endeavour Energy sets out to strike ‘'the right balance between the aesthetics of the tree and keeping the branches a safe distance away from the power lines''.

‘‘Trees are so important for a whole stack of reasons, and here we are willy-nilly tearing them down,’’ Mr Winterbottom said.

‘‘Through the community plan we’re trying to plant more trees and get more greenery in our suburb, but they’re being chopped back as fast as they’re being planted.’’

An Endeavour Energy spokeswoman said pruning crews were supervised by qualified aborists and horticulturists to ensure they struck ‘‘the right balance between the aesthetics of the tree and keeping the branches a safe distance away from the power lines’’.

‘‘When dealing with live electricity, however, safety must always be our first priority and this is why it is so important to keep a safe distance between trees and power lines,’’ she said.

‘‘I can’t understand why it’s so different in Wollongong when the energy companies would be bound by the same legislation.’’

‘‘I can’t understand why it’s so different in Wollongong when the energy companies would be bound by the same legislation.’’

She said trees were lopped so they sat three to 4.5 metres below the lines.

Greens councillor George Takacs said he had been concerned about the tree lopping for some time and hoped the council would encourage the company to take a different approach.

‘‘There are places around the state, and interstate, which have large street trees and power lines that coexist almost to the point where you don’t know the lines are there because the trees grow around them,’’ he said.

‘‘I can’t understand why it’s so different in Wollongong when the energy companies would be bound by the same legislation.’’

The Endeavour spokeswoman said the company would be happy meet forum members and was working with the council to discuss how to best manage trees in Wollongong.

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