Protester gets a 'stop work'

Deb Dunn staged a protest in the construction zone until VicRoads' senior project managers agreed to a meeting.

Deb Dunn staged a protest in the construction zone until VicRoads' senior project managers agreed to a meeting.

A local resident believes irreparable damage has been done to elm trees lining the seven-kilometre 'Avenue of Honour' between Romsey and Lancefield due to works underway to widen the road.

After VicRoads failed to respond to Deb Dunn's urgent request to stop works last Sunday, she returned to the site on Tuesday only to find more damage being done to the trees. Ms Dunn staged a protest by parking in the construction zone until VicRoads' senior project managers agreed to a meeting.

She said the trees along the east side of the road were being decimated.

"Setting aside the argument as to whether the road requires an upgrade, my primary concern is the immediate and long-term health of hundreds of trees," Ms Dunn said.

"Exotic trees along the east side of the road were firstly lopped of branches and then had their roots excavated or had huge amounts of fill placed in the Tree Protection Zones.

"Tree protection zone barriers that were in place should not have been removed by the contractors."

Last Thursday VicRoads representatives met with Ms Dunn and fellow resident Vivien Philpotts and agreed to investigate the works and instigate urgent remedial works at the site.

Some damaged trees may need to be removed for safety reasons and a plan for gradual removal and replacement will be put in place.

"Hopefully we can reduce the losses from hundreds down to tens," Ms Dunn said.

Bryan Sherritt, VicRoads' safe system road infrastructure program director, said that while the trees in question were not formally protected, VicRoads acknowledged they were important to the local community.

"We've brought in an independent arborist to undertake an assessment of their health and we'll be working closely with the community throughout this process," Mr Sherritt said.

"VicRoads will deliver on the recommendations in the arborist's report and will undertake any mitigation measures required to ensure the health of the trees."