THE CITY of Greater Bendigo has delayed cutting down 200 Lockwood trees during last-minute talks with environmental groups.
The council was preparing to fire up its machinery on Wednesday to widen sections of Crusoe Road, but cancelled the plan after an outcry from a coalition of environmental groups.
They had only found out about the plans to remove vegetation from roadsides in the past week and were alarmed that they were not consulted about major tree loss in an area where critically endangered swift parrots have previously been seen.
The council will spend the next 48 hours reviewing its plans following a meeting with coalition members on Wednesday morning, presentation and assets director Brian Westley said.
"I've given an undertaking that the works won't commence until I give the direction for them to do so," he said.
The Upper Spring Creek Landcare group's Judy Crocker said it was a positive meeting but had not ruled out further action.
"We will just have to wait and see what will happen, now. The ball's in the council's court," she said.
Under an arrangement hammered out at the meeting, environmentalists would be given statistics on seven crashes the council used in its push to fix sections of Crusoe Road.
In turn, the council will answer a series of questions and consider what Mr Westley described as "potential modifications" to reduce tree removal.
Those changes could involve speed reductions or tweaks to table drain designs.
But the council wants to get on with works sooner rather than later.
"We'll work through the information they gave us ... but I was fairly upfront in regard to the need for these works. There is a crash record on this road and we need to do something about it," Mr Westley said.
"I would really love to be in a position for these works to start up next week."
Australian Conservation Foundation member Vyonne McLelland-Howe said she had used Wednesday's meeting to argue the council should proactively seek out environmental groups' views on works.
"That's so they can have that input. There was a clear lack of community consultation on this one," she said.
Mr Westley confirmed that he had spoken to people at the meeting about opportunities for improved communications, which council staff would consider.
"In saying that, though, the plans for this were posted onto our website a year ago. A lot of the information was out there," he said.
Mr Westley defended the project's consultation process, describing it as "robust".
"Part of that was letter drops and follow-up consultations with residents, as well as consultations on legislative stuff with DELWP [the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning] and the Department of Transport," he said.
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