The barren land on Alison Road in Randwick where trees have been cut to make way for the light rail. Photo: Ben RushtonResidents of Sydney’s east woke up to a freshly bare Alison Road on Monday morning, after scores of trees were cut down over the weekend in preparation for the construction of a light rail line.
According to Randwick City Council, many of the iconic fig trees cut from Centennial Park were more than a hundred years old.
Randwick Greens councillor Murray Matson said residents remained “outraged” and “disappointed” that the trees were removed.
“The community has lost a lot,” Cr Matson said. ”There used to be a canopy effect where people used to walk along the bike track. Now it’s just open ground.
“It’s like a bare moonscape, with a river of woodchips going off into the horizon,” he said.
Cr Matson said two large Centennial Park trees remained in the construction zone on the corner of Darley Road and Alison Road; however, he was unsure if they would also be removed.
According to Cr Matson, the local council was not consulted when the state government changed plans for the light rail from the south to the north side of Alison Road, a move that necessitated the trees’ removal.
Up to 10 protesters chained themselves to the large fig trees for four hours last Thursday.
The protesters left peacefully after police claimed they were trespassing.
Transport for NSW said about 35 trees had been removed from Alison Road, and a further four from Anzac Parade. A spokeswoman said at least two trees would be planted for every small tree felled, four for every medium-sized one, and eight for every significant tree.
She rejected suggestions the council was not consulted.
“The proposed alignment was changed after further consultation was carried out with the community and stakeholders. The planning modification was released in 2014 and was then put out for public feedback from stakeholders, including Randwick City Council,” she said
The Department of Planning approved the modifications in February last year.
Transport for NSW said it “thoroughly investigated” the possibility of constructing the light rail line on the south side of Alison Road but deemed it unfeasible.
The $2.1 billion tram line will link Circular Quay to the eastern suburbs via Anzac Parade, and includes stops near Moore Park and the Randwick Racecourse.