About 60 people gathered in front of the Heidelberg train station November 19 to take part in a funeral for trees, forests and animals lost due to destruction caused by the North East Link project (NELP).
Members of the Watsonia community, as well residents from other areas impacted by the NELP, joined the protest, marching along the main street of Heidelberg chanting, “NELP environmental vandalism, trees matter, people matter and save our homes, save our trees”.
The event was organised by Friends of Banyule and Sustainable Cities.
About 20 cars then drove slowly in a funeral cortege past the Simpsons Barracks to Watsonia to listen to speakers.
The Simpson Barracks in Watsonia and Yallambie, once an army base, was surrounded by bush land providing habitat for two critically endangered plants, the Matted Flax-lilly and the Studley Park Gum.
It was also part of a wildlife corridor used by the Powerful Owl (vulnerable) and the Swift Parrot (critically endangered).
An expert panel has advised the Victorian government that the barracks should be a no go zone, but this was ignored when it approved the NELP.
Apart from the destruction of the trees, homes have been compulsorily acquired and inadequate compensation given. Communities are being shattered.
Watsonia traders and residents are demanding that a tunnel replace a large trench which will divide the community.