Council says coconut palm trees are safe

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has rejected reports that up to 40 coconut palm trees will be removed from the Airlie Beach foreshore.

Mayor Jennifer Whitney said under Council's coconut palm tree management plan, only trees posing a risk to the community would be removed.

"Council has a long-standing coconut palm tree management plan, with the preference being to de-nut trees rather than remove the trees entirely. This is standard practice amongst coastal local governments," she said.

Cr Whitney's response was issued as the result of emails circulated among members of the Whitsunday Ratepayers Association.

The emails stemmed from a letter by Rory McCourt, who suggested there might be plans to remove and destroy "at least 40 of our gracefully arching mature coconut palms - and who knows how many more in the future".

Council's chief executive officer Scott Waters said the idea of removing palm trees was news to him.

He said there were four trees on the Esplanade area that were "a bit sick" and these trees had been earmarked for review and potential removal in the near future.

Mr McCourt's letter suggested that instead of perceiving the town's coconuts as a costly inconvenience or a problem to be disposed of, "we try to see them as an opportunity."

"At the appropriate time each year, when the bulk of the area's coconuts are ripening, why not persuade our tourism marketing gurus to consider a celebratory event, such as the Airlie Beach Coconut Harvest Festival," he said.

Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) chief executive officer Danial Rochford was not averse to this idea.

"All ideas are good ideas," he said.

"And we're certainly going to be working on a big events push in the new year."

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