Noel Burke stands outside the boundary of his Beenham Valley property and assesses the damage to his trees.
Noel Burke stands outside the boundary of his Beenham Valley property and assesses the damage to his trees. Renee Pilcher

Gympie resident's yard disgraced

IT was not the kind of tree change Noel Burke had in mind when he and his wife moved from the big smoke of Sydney to their 10-acre property in Beenham Valley nearly a decade ago.

After eight years of clearing his land of lantana and planting it out with rainforest and fruit trees, Mr Burke was appalled to find trees and shrubs on either side of his fence line dying off this week because of a Gympie Regional Council spray contractor’s over zealous method of weed control.

Mr Burke said his anger was fuelled by the fact that he already maintained the roadside along his fence line and because of that, spray drift hit a whole row of lime trees planted a metre from the fence.

“I know they need to do weed management. I use Roundup myself, but this is disgraceful,” he told The Gympie Times.

“I can’t understand why they sprayed trees that are nowhere near the road.”

Mr Burke planted out rainforest trees on his property with money from a government grant under the carbon offset scheme. He said spray contractors needed to open their eyes.

Noel Burke’s complaint has prompted Gympie Regional Council to review the methods used by spray contractors to kill weeds along the sides of roads.

Council Works and Services chairman Larry Friske acknowledged they “had a bit of a problem out there with spray-drift” and said any damage was accidental.

“The works manager has been out on site and had discussions with the owner of the property and a decision was made that council will rectify the damage done,” he said.

“Council considers this as a very unfortunate incident. We would like to think it is definitely a one-off.

“The rest of Beenham Valley Road has been inspected and it has been assessed as acceptable. The spray is used to lop the leaves off the side of the trees along the road to improve visibility. They grow back.”

Cr Friske said the contractor may not have realised some of the plants he sprayed were exotic shrubs however, Mr Burke reckons either way, the contractor did the wrong thing because the shrubs and trees sprayed were actually planted on his property.

“These contractors have got to open their eyes and have a look at what people are doing around their own properties to maintain the weeds,” Mr Burke said.

“That’s my front yard they’ve disgraced and they don’t seem to care. I don’t have a problem with using chemicals if it is done properly.”

Cr Friske said council’s works manager Greg Ingham had already discussed the issue with the contractor and the plan was to rectify the problem in the near future by replacing the trees.

The Burke’s 10 acre property is listed as a Voluntary Wildlife Conservation Property.

Gympie Times


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