Update on trees at Alphington paper mill site

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Independent experts have completed further assessment of the health and stability of two large trees on the Yarra riverbank at Alphington. The trees are located on land owned by Glenvill, who are redeveloping the former Alphington paper mill site.

Recent slumping of the riverbank has caused concerns that the trees could be at risk of falling into the river, after two other trees fell in January and May this year.

A panel of independent experts (including an arborist, geotechnical engineer, geo-morphologist and ecologist) convened by consultants Alluvium on behalf of Yarra City Council assessed the site, and reviewed arborist and geotechnical reports submitted by Glenvill as well as Yarra Council’s own arborists. The independent assessment concluded that one tree is at risk of falling, and the second tree should be retained and monitored regularly to assess any changes to its condition.

A further assessment and report from Alluvium, concluded that the at-risk tree now poses an immediate risk to the riverbank as the slumping has worsened in recent days.

Council last night endorsed the removal of the at-risk tree, retaining the root ball to provide riverbank protection and soil stability, and to locate the trunk in the river to act as in stream habitat for wildlife. The removal of the tree and relocation to the river requires Melbourne Water approval and is expected to occur in the coming days.

Council also noted that the condition of the existing track is not safe and so is not currently open to the public. This position will be reviewed in the future as site conditions change.

Our first priority is to ensure the safety of the community, and to minimise any further damage to the riverbank. We will continue to monitor the condition and safety of the trees.

Further independent investigations into the underlying cause of the riverbank slumping are continuing, with another report addressing these matters expected to be tabled with Council at their meeting on 27 August 2019.

Read the full council report and independent recommendation from independent experts Alluvium.

Council resolution 13 August 2019, Item 11.1

That Council:

a) notes the advice from Glenvill that the condition of the existing track is not safe to keep the current path open to the public, as such it has been closed;

b) notes that Glenvill are open to reviewing this position in the future should site conditions change;

c) notes that following the ultimate rehabilitation of the riverfront there will be an upper path and a lower path in accordance with the approved Development Plan and Section 173 Agreement registered on the land that will provide public accessibility;

d) notes the assessment on Tree 1 and the options presented by Alluvium to preserve the tree;

e) notes that due to further slumping of the river bank, the likelihood that the tree will fall in the coming days or weeks, and the immediate risk to the property (river bank) should the tree fall, the advice from Alluvium is that Tree 1 should now be removed without the need for a planning permit;

f) endorse the removal of the tree, retaining the root ball for bank protection, and in conjunction with Melbourne Water, locate the trunk in the river to act as instream habitat and in addition consider the same treatment for the already fallen tree at this location;

g) instruct officers to liaise with Glenvill and Melbourne Water to inform them of this resolution and to work with them to give it effect as soon as practicable; and

h) note the options provided within the report by Alluvium to stabilise the riverbank, and further note that Alluvium will provide a future report on both the cause and the options to address further river bank slumping as part of a report to the next Council Meeting.

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