A COUPLE living in Coolabah Court, Tweed Heights said they are "angry beyond words" over a lack of action from Tweed Shire Council to address a problem they and neighbours have with an African Tulip Tree on a nature strip next to their home.
The couple claim leaves, flowers and debris from the tree is covering their driveway on a daily basis and posing a threat to the water system via gutters and drainage in the street.
"We have asked the council many times and have written to them and had nothing but rudeness and a lack of action," Brian Lockhart said.
"My wife Evelyn and I are very stressed and both have back problems, yet have to continually clear up the mess from our driveway, swimming pool and garden.
"The debris is also very slippery on the driveway and poses a risk in terms of injury.
"Also, this is not a native tree and shouldn't be allowed to propagate via our water system and the air."
Mr Lockhart showed My Daily News a letter received from manager for recreational services Stewart Brawley in response to their request for action.
The letter stated that the tree was reported to be in good health and not causing damage to infrastructure.
It further states the council's adopted policy that "a tree shall not be declared a danger merely because it may naturally drop sap, gum, flowers, fruit, seeds and shed leaves, twigs or branches, etc over which people may slip, trip or fall on or otherwise suffer injury or property damage."
When My Daily News approached the council for a response, a spokesman reiterated the policy regarding tree removal.
"We love trees," Mr Lockhart said.
"But it's the case of a nice tree in the wrong place.
"An African Tulip Tree was removed from the park nearby, yet they will not address this problem."
A neighbour said he sympathised with the Lockharts.
"I can understand their grief," he said.
"I love the trees in this street, but some of them do pose a problem and are not natives."
According to the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia the African Tulip is a tall tree to 20 m grown widely in tropical and sub-tropical areas for its spectacular flowers.
When mature the trunk develops characteristic buttresses. The attractive buds open to reveal brilliant flame-scarlet cup shaped blooms. Unfortunately this tree has 'escaped' from gardens in Northern Australia and has naturalised.
It is a very invasive plant that is susceptible to dieback. In the tropics the seeds germinate readily and it can sucker easily from damaged roots. The large amounts of nectar produced in the flowers are very attractive to birds and increases potential spread.
The woody fruit of the African Tulip Tree is poisonous.
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