Plantation stirs emotions
By EMMA CORNFORD
LANDOWNERS at Kangaroo Creek will write to the Carr Government and Clarence Valley Council to voice their anger over a tree plantation being developed in the area.
They say it could destroy the local environment and their livelihoods.
But owners of the plantation say they have worked within government guidelines and are creating employment opportunities in the Clarence Valley.
"It's absolutely bloody devastating what they've done," said Ken Hughes, who owns property which adjoins the new plantation.
"The State Government and council must halt further clearing and planting of the property until a full environmental study of the property, creeks and a full socio-economic study of the adjoining properties and the way they will be affected by this plantation is complete."
But David Lovell, Area Forester for Forest Enterprises Australia, which owns the plantation, said a full environmental impact study would show only positive results.
"Socio-economically it would be a huge financial benefit to Grafton and surrounding areas and environmentally what we're doing is planting trees. How can that be negative?".
Residents believe the outcome of a study would be very different.
Mr Hughes said the flow of the river will be severely affected because of a lack of runoff from the plantation, and that ploughing was already leeching minerals and heavy metals from the soil.
"Because we're on the boundary this will also cause a huge shadowy effect as the trees grow in the plantation. If we were in an urban area and someone came in and started building a multi-story building there would be a massive outcry and ... yet they don't seem to care."
Other residents in the area have raised concerns about fire issues in the plantation.
Neighbour Ed Walker said extensive damage had been caused to a bridge at Kangaroo Creek on the weekend after a fire burned out of control and said the company had been burning fires for two months without any regard for smoke generated by the fires.
Mr Lovell said he was 'disappointed' in the reaction from the community.
"We're landowners just as much as they are (and) I've spoken at great lengths and gone out of my way to contact neighbours in the immediate region about what we're doing," he said.
"We're not doing a one thousand house development here ? we're planting native timber trees in an environmentally friendly way. It's the most benign land use you could find."