The trees will make way to protect three high-pressure oil and fuel pipes that run along the river’s banks.
The pipes were installed in the 1970s and are coming to the end of their lifespan. They will need to be repaired or replaced in coming years, with thousands of trees set to be removed, some within months.
Metal tags appeared on the trees a month ago. The Inner West Council was unaware the trees had been tagged for removal.
There are also fears for a catastrophic fuel or oil spill in the Cooks River in the event of an oil burst.
Federal MPs Tony Burke and Linda Burney and State MP Jo Haylen are calling for the establishment of a Community Forum similar to Sydney Airport Community Forum (SACF), to provide advice to government and manage the various parties with a stake in the river.
The river has been the focus of bush regeneration and water cycle management projects since the 1970s, at considerable cost to all levels of Government.
Burke, Burney and Haylen have also called for an immediate full investigation of the safety of the pipes and for management of the pipes to be conducted in full consultation with Government and community groups.
Local environmental groups are mobilising to understand and manage the planned removal of trees, ordered by the private oil companies that own the pipes.
Quotes attributable to Tony Burke MP, Member for Watson and Shadow Environment Minister
“The Cooks River was one of the most beautiful rivers in the Sydney basin. For decades it has been treated like a stormwater drain.
We should be improving the health of the Cooks River and the ecology around it. This is a wasteful step in the wrong direction.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Barton, Linda Burney
“People will be shocked to know that these pipelines run along the banks of the River.
“The Cooks River belongs to all of us and decisions related to the River should be conducted transparently and in consultation with the three levels of government and the community.
“What is clear is that the management of these pipes cannot continue in secret.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen MP
“Locals have a strong investment to these trees and the health of the river - Their removal will come as a huge blow to the countless volunteers who have revegetated the banks of the river.
“One elderly gentleman remembers planting the trees slated for removal back in the 1970s. He is devastated to learn these trees will be chain-sawed for oil pipes.
“We are slowly bringing the river back to life and it’s devastating to think that all that work can be pulled out from under us.
“We know that the Baird Government doesn’t care about our natural and urban heritage and will always prioritise private interests. A Community Forum is the best way to ensure we all have a say in a natural resource that’s so important to all of us.”
Quotes from Peter Munro, Co-ordinator of the Mudcrabs and Vice President of the Cooks River Valley Association
“The Mudcrabs and Cooks River Valley Alliance have worked tirelessly to improve the health of the river.
“We are desperately worried about what these tags mean and what the removal of trees might mean for the health of the river.
“The owners of the pipes, governments and community groups need to come together and start planning for the future of the river in a coordinated way.
“That should start with managing these trees and the future of the pipelines.”