Election day rave 21.8.2010


I have kept trying to work out the reasons behind this sad, silly business of chopping down beautiful trees in Laman Street because it makes so little sense to me.

I know there have turned out to be infrastructure works that presumably council as well as Energy Australia want to do – making it easier and cheaper to do the work after removing  the huge Hill’s figs – but I’m reminded by a friend that

  • there was a community backlash in 2004 after Tyrrell Street was turned into a desert. Half an avenue of Hill’s figs were chopped down to work on a substation, under the guise of being unstable. Work was done in another stunning street in Cooks Hill called Swan Street soon after this. The cabling was put down the middle of the street and no trees were removed, although council’s arborist did warn the residents of Swan Street that their trees would Be Watched.
  • that running cables could be done in the middle of Laman Street and that under-road boring would be possible without disturbing the trees. This can run 2-300 metres and would cost a lot less than $1.4million which is the quoted figure to remove the Hill’s figs, build tree vaults and plant the new trees.
  • the powers that be just don’t like mature trees. This is in spite of their carbon sequestration , provision of food and shelter for wildlife, creation of shade, beauty and cooling, reduction of stormwater, increasing visitors to a site,etc.
  • improving root systems can be done just by piping some air into the root zone of trees. In the US they pump air as well as nutrients into the soil and one article I read said air alone by presumably  decreasing compaction of the soil improves the health of tree roots.
  • this year’s council budget allowed for the outsourcing of almost half a million dollars for tree work. It sounded like a lot. It sounded like an amount to chop an avenue of trees down. It was passed without any controversy.
  • I said to a friend that council should have been straightforward in the beginning and said they wanted to do some infrastructure work and have some trendy new trees. The friend pointed out to me that this would not have been acceptable to the community and that the council would therefore not have been successful, but imagine having all this smoke and mirrors stuff – ‘experts’ telling us their two-bobs’ worth. Most unsatisfactory when you lose faith in the honesty and transparency of government processes.

And we have to remember that Cr Bob Cook said that replacing the trees is about ‘renewal’. Various people talked about not wanting to foist this problem on our children and our grandchildren and that we have to think about The Future.

I guess these people have A Vision. And we have to remember that This Vision only a week ago was to plant liquidambers – because ‘We Can Source These Now‘. How’s that for Vision. A tree that drops seedpods with spikes, has superficial lumpy roots, drops branches and doesn’t feed native wildlife. But we can source it now so the next 80-100 years can get knotted.

And don’t forget Right Tree, Right Place and that when these trees were planted in the 30s these were the Wrong Tree. A friend reminded me today that they’re now planning to put the Wrong Tree back in again. Onya, guys.

Enjoy Election Day. Home


2 Responses to “Election day rave 21.8.2010”

  1. Phoenix Says:

    I’m new to Cooks Hill and horrified by the decision to take the trees out – is there any further action we can take? does the community have any fight left?

  2. Ali Says:

    Just read ur latest blog & have been thinkin about this whole sorry scenario

    Spot on!, this Laman St Fig Fiasco has been a cruel education, if nothing else.
    In my mind the decision had always been made, but not for safety reasons. The risk issue has simply been a vehicle by which development plans are being driven & delivered.

    The whole claim of the Figs being unsafe,under the flawed risk assessment, were in my view questionable if not fanciful.
    Sadly the Figs may now even have become unstable & parts may now have become a risk.
    After all there has been more than enough poking prodding & damage incurred, as investigations intensified , infrastructure scrambled & snatch a patch mentality for utility lines & routes.
    Perhaps these valuable Trees by now in fact may already have suffered enough to now be unstable?
    Death by a thousand hap hazard cuts! & perhaps this to was all part of the plan?

    However before any axe falls, the good people of the region may well ask for the facts.
    After all NCC has just spent near $70,000? on a good old “charette”
    A charette I might add, that immediately received criticsm from quarters, as being nothing more that micromanaged ‘community insult, a charade, more likened to a staged event, with a NCC driven agenda, basically presented & delivered to the audience in attendance.

    The Community as stakeholders,should be made aware of the charettes most basic outcomes. Yet it would seem there is still much conjecture over the simplest of facts

    Just how old are these trees & long do they live?
    Was the risk assessment based on fact, or should it urgently be independently peer reviewed?
    What is the actual cos$t & just what is the real value of the trees.
    Are any of these trees actually diseased & if so which ones?
    & honestly what is with the timeframe, why suddenly do they all figs have to go at once?

    I can’t help but believe that this urgent “get rid of the lot” approach is some animated & exaggerated overreaction in response to poor press & the media “dither file” claims
    Even brilliant Lewis tried to share his wisdom in the hearald cartoon
    “Lament st indeed

    & just where & when will the NCC tree removal activities stop?
    “Just what other trees “are being watched””

    Why such secrecy & difficulty accessing info that should be shared & inclusive public knowledge.

    & really, has this been an acceptable process? I think not
    Is it in keeping with NCC implementing their own policy & procedure?
    Is this the policy & procedure that ratepayers find reasonable?
    As we were reminded by Robert, re Mr Churchills quote” Governments can do what they like, but the people must like what they do”

    But most important presently
    how does this outcome legally stand within constraints of
    Significant tree registers eg, Heritage & Councils own Local Environmental Plan?

    Should a legal challenge be urgently filed to cease any further destruction
    Particularly until this process has been fully investigated?
    It has all left more questions than answers….

    Yes the Figs are not a native to the area
    Yes they have invasive roots
    But the roots can be vaulted
    & branches can be supported.
    The Trees are not yet at the end of their lifespan.

    & as you mentioned it also begs that question why o why add insult to injury to offer to replant with figs & or after all this time simply offer up …ridiculous liquid ambars?

    The current natural arching canopy has become a magnificent framework for our cities heart. Mattara Fairs, wedding photos, art gallery offerings, cooling by the fountain in the searing summer temps. Anzac day memories, aging Diggers & widows, taking shelter & comfort with families finding shade & common interests with dappled light patterns filtering down. A place of union where people rally & relax
    An artful scene within, joined by a pedestrian crossing where many a picturesque abbey rd like pose has been snapped

    A shelter where birds & critters take refuge & forage including threatened species supposed afforded powerful legal protection.
    Birds, bats, possums & even our own community seek shelter here in this instinctively healing hub.

    It holds much social & heritage value to Novocastrians & beyond, not just as part of our own experiences but also as a vision from our forebearers, history planted by previous civic leaders as part of the Newcastle beautification scheme ~ a scheme that actually worked & unlike the rest of Newcastle refreshes us & is kind to our souls & eyes!

    The trees even hold inbuilt graffiti walls, etchings of collective communal emotions carved unobtrusively into the white trunks, combining to give us a all a sense of place, an organic belonging, grown & co existing beautifully as natures art. All this located perfectly in this cities artistc & cultural precinct.
    Todays social & community planners should be doing all possible to ensure that this successful vision planted by our ancestors is respected & all proper process & alternatives resolved before attempting to destroy such a workable model of our living heritage.

    “Resistance has not been futile”!

    & I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts & to let you know
    your efforts are admirable..

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