Resident ‘devastated’ after trees fall in Woombah
JUST days after council revoked a stop work order on tree-clearing which has split the community of Woombah, the bulldozers moved in.
Work began at Woombah Woods Caravan Park last week to make way for a redevelopment of the Lower Clarence tourist site, despite the objections of a number of residents.
Emma Mills, whose property neighbours the park, said she was devastated by the decision to allow the clearing and was left frustrated by a lack of consultation.
Ms Mills said the removal of the trees completely changed the outlook of the area.
"We bought in bushland and we want our kids to live in Woombah Woods," she said.
The owner of the park, William Hu, said the plans had been around long before he started developing and should have come as no surprise.
He said the project would bring "millions of dollars" into the local economy and some people didn't understand the value that came with that type of investment.
"This is the biggest project in the community, we already employ four people and it will employ more including the subcontractors (for the build)."
Mr Hu was frustrated by the negativity surrounding the project, which he said had been fuelled by rumours and misinformation shared on social media.
"We will only clear what we need to clear to build the cabins and we have worked with council to reduce the footprint for clearing significantly," he said.
"We need to view developments more positively instead all of the negativity, the local culture needs to change."
The clearing resumed on Thursday after Clarence Valley Council removed an emergency order which had been in place since August.
Council staff had been negotiating with the owner to reduce the amount of vegetation cleared after recognising the validity of a development application covering the site from 1984.
Council director of Environment, Planning and Community Des Schroder gave some insight into the negotiations and said a council employee was on site during the works.
"We reduced the area which was to be cleared," he said.
"It is a much better ecological outcome."
He said an ecologist conducted tree inspections throughout the process and work would continue at the site.