A 91-year-old woman chained herself to a tree in protest of the Western Highway duplication.
Isabel Mackenzie chained herself to the century-old tree at Buangor, east of Ararat, for four hours on Monday morning in an effort to save vegetation due to be removed to make way for the four-lane divided highway between Beaufort and Ararat.
Ms Mackenzie, who has lived in the area for more than 60 years, said she was concerned about the impact the loss of vegetation would have on the environment.
“Let’s face it, trees are a living thing ... this tree will die,” she said.
“I am taking this drastic action to draw attention to the heartbreaking loss of our grandchildren’s natural heritage.
“All my life I’ve been a strictly law-abiding person, but because of the unconscionable damage, I feel compelled to act. Another generation won’t be able to enjoy these trees.
VicRoads Western Highway project director Mick McCarthy said the public was consulted before the works began.
“It was a very extensive planning process that went over a couple of years,” he said.
“We went through a public consultation process to make sure we understood the impact and the community had a chance to get involved with that.
“Since then we’ve been talking with land care groups and the likes to make sure we’re fully across the issue.
“We don’t shy away from the fact there are a lot of trees coming out, but we’ve tried to minimise it as far as possible.”
Mr McCarthy said all environmental impacts from the construction were taken into consideration during the planning process.
“I think people were shocked with the scale of it, which they may not have appreciated at the public exhibition,” he said. “We want the same outcome.
“We’re not walking away from this, we’re saying we’re working to improve the impact and we will continue to do that. This doesn’t change anything.
“A lot of freight around here does need to go on road transport so it is important we need to make that safe ...”