Concerns grow over estuary trees

BATTERED: Branches broke off trees along the South New Brighton estuary edge during the storm two weeks ago.

Trees were left straddling popular walking footpaths and other parts of the South New Brighton’s estuary edge after the storm two weeks ago.

Residents close to the area say they have safety concerns about the trees still standing after the storm.

Coastal-Burwood Community Board chairman Tim Sintes said concerns had been raised with city council in the past about how these trees would fare in such an event.

City council staff had visited the estuary edge and reassured people if the trees fell, they would fall away from the nearby walking track and South Brighton Holiday Park.

However, Mr Sintes said this was the opposite of what happened during storms.

“Our strong winds are from the south and its been proven over and over again that a lot of them tend to fall backwards, back over towards the track.”

Mr Sintes said he went down to view the damage after the storm and most of the fallen trees had rotted through.

He said there was a good chance those still standing would be rotten too.

“Some of them that came down from the outside looked like they were an ok tree, but when they come down you realise there’s nothing inside them, just dust.”

Mr Sintes said this was because of water from the estuary flooding its banks and getting into tree roots.

“As we’ve lost the protection of the estuary edge and the reno mattresses that were once there, the wave action is getting into the sandy banks and undermining the tree roots.”

The damage to these protective barriers happened during the earthquakes.

Mr Sintes said these had not yet been repaired or replaced by city council.

City council head of parks Andrew Rutledge said it was currently looking into options to protect the estuary edge, in spite of saying the damaged barriers around it were not unsafe.

“An assessment of the site is taking place with the aim of developing options for coastal edge management.”

“The structures were compromised during the earthquakes. However, they do not present any safety risk to the public”.

South Brighton Holiday Park owner Sam Hawkins had also seen the extent of the damage and said there was potential for more.

“One tree that fell would have been at least eight metres tall or more and it went right across a pathway.”

Mr Hawkins said of the trees still standing along the estuary, there were 50 or 60 with the potential to fall in another storm.

Mr Rutledge said six trees were cut down on Tuesday due to this risk.

Mr Hawkins said if dangerous trees close to the holiday park were not removed, this would result in “us not feeling safe to send guests or tourists through that area.”