Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1807 ..
MS TUCKER (5.18): I move:
That this Assembly calls on the Government to establish an Environment Advisory Group, made up of subject experts and representatives of relevant conservation groups, for the project to duplicate the Federal Highway from Watson to the ACT border, which will provide advice on the route design and environmental management during construction.
I put forward this motion because of community concerns that have been raised about the fate of the considerable number of trees which line the Federal Highway from Watson to the ACT border and which are under threat from the proposed duplication of the highway. As members would know, there have been plans around for some time to complete the duplication of the highway into Canberra. The stretch of road from Watson to the Sutton interchange is the last remaining section on which work needs to commence. I understand that Totalcare is the project manager for the roadworks on the ACT side of the border and that design work is currently being undertaken on the new section of the road.
This motion is not about stopping the work but making sure that the roadworks are done in the most environmentally friendly way possible. From information that has become available from Totalcare, most of the trees on the western side of the existing road will have to be cleared to make way for the extra lanes. These trees number in the hundreds and include mainly trees planted around the 1930s and some remnant native trees. Trees were planted there to provide a formal, tree-lined entry into Canberra that really expresses the bush capital nature of Canberra. It would be a great shame if these grand trees were destroyed needlessly because the road designers could not accommodate them in their plan. The Federal Highway at this point is the entranceway to the national capital and we must treat it with more respect.
This motion calls on the Government to establish an environment advisory group to provide advice on ways of protecting the environment along the route as much as possible. I understand that a similar group was established by the New South Wales Road Transport Authority for the duplication of the Federal Highway around Lake George and proved to be quite successful in providing a forum for interested groups to discuss environmental impacts of the road and ways of minimising these impacts. I am not suggesting that all the trees along the section of road between Watson and the border should be maintained. In fact, I am aware that some of the trees near Watson are showing signs of disease. The point I am making is that we should be attempting to preserve as many trees as practicable so that the tree-lined vista that visitors to Canberra see as they drive into the city is maintained as much as possible.
Obviously, it is possible to plant new trees to replace ones that may have to be cut down, but then we would have to wait another 50 years to get the trees back to the state of the current ones, which does seem a waste. I understand that it would be possible to protect the trees by placing the new western lane sufficiently distant from the trees to allow them