A pleasant evening in Laman Street 18.9.2010


Newcastle people will have heard that we were successful yesterday at the Land and Environment court in our bid  for more time to challenge council’s decision to remove the Laman Street figs.

To enjoy the figs and the street together we went there tonight at 5pm – people were encouraged by flyers in windows to bring the kids, bring the dog, bring your camera: it was an opportunity to enjoy our most beautiful street together. We’ll never have another avenue like this again after the chainsaws move in.

The injunction was taken out by the Parks and Playgrounds Movement on behalf of the Newcastle community.
The Land and Environment Court has given the trees just over a one week reprieve, after which the case will be heard in the Supreme Court. While I found it a challenge to follow the issues it seemed to me that the court was unable to make a ruling because council were arguing on two fronts, only one of which the Land and Environment Court had jurisdiction over.

The judge described us as ‘falling between two stools’ and felt it was an important issue to resolve.

Council said they were relying on the Roads Act to remove the trees but then reintroduced a legal argument based on State planning policy, the SEPP (Infrastructure); this was in spite of reassuring members of the community that this would not be the case.

As a lay observer, one of the loveliest moments came when the parties were discussing the environmental impact of removing the trees and the judge made the point that the definition of ‘environment ‘ is very broad and takes in the effect the removal would have on the public.

He referred to a letter from the Director-General to our group which made mention of this, saying that the Director-General recognised that this is a matter about which there is a great deal of community feeling in Newcastle.

The decision comes after the council moved heavy machinery into Laman St   – three days before they told the community that they would. We were receiving scary phone calls from home that sounded as though the tree felling would start as soon as news came from the court that we had been unsuccessful. There were shredders and hoists and a crew of workers. Fortunately a council spokesperson said in the Herald this morning  this was just equipment to move the barricades around…

How’s that for a bad look? It felt like Birdwood Park in the 70s when the bulldozers arrived at 530am. Home

This seat has been removed but not replaced. I saw an old lady having to perch against the fence waiting for a bus.


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3 Responses to “A pleasant evening in Laman Street 18.9.2010”

  1. Ali Says:

    “Falling between two stools” interesting perspective. both sound shitty. but the community is right & resilient & so are the trees! Last night i observed Grey Headed Flying Foxes at the eastern end of Laman st & also in the adjacent Civic Park area. I cannot believe the fauna assesments simplistic statement that these Bats ( including threatened micro bats) have other trees in the area to support them. Who knows if other trees already support populations. With limitied holes & hollows already homes NCC eviction plans adds stress to surrounding neighbours trees and most unfortunately to these already threatened species. Many residents have cats & dogs adding to low survival rates for this fragile species. From what i have learnt by a simple google search, Spring is the time of the GHFF to be having their one annual young and often to be carrying them after a 6-7month gestation period. In a biodiverse world these things count. That fauna assesment that has arrived in the public arena so so late ie last week! in my opinion contains questionable assumptions & ignores simple facts.

  2. chatty Says:

    It was a proud time in Laman Street last night as the Community gathered in a Vigil to oppose the Councils crude plan to chop down 80 year old Heritage fig trees and destroy the magnificent atmosphere and habitat that is Laman Street, Cooks Hill.

    Such a diverse array of people gathered and wondered in and out until I left at 9pm. Families came and had a picnic tea, bringing the kids and the dogs, to spend time with the trees they love. Singing and guitar playing accompanied lots of photo taking. They came to find out what the hell is the Council thinking? Why are they going to destroy this beautiful place? What is driving them? What is it really about?

    It’s a sad world when greed and development trump a caring humanity and the wellbeing of our society and environment. Weeks ago, Councillor Bob Cook inferred that having ‘feelings about trees’ was unfortunate and for sissies in a time of ‘hard decision making’ for the big boys. I’m someone who can struggle with decision making at the best of time but I’m not seeing how this is a hard decision, when Newcastle people are crying out to be heard, to make the decision for them, all they have to do is LISTEN. 5,000 people have signed petitions so far, how many thousands will it take for us to be recognised as other an the “vocal minority” as Councillor Bob Cook described us?

    Well……see you all again tonight, in Laman Street under the trees with the Grey headed Flying fox, the micro bats, the kookaburras and owlsand heaps of friends!

  3. Michelle Says:

    Why do Council’s & other authorities always prune trees or chop them down in Spring? Nice weather? Not to hot for back-breaking work?

    What Ali wrote deserves repeating -“Spring is the time of the GHFF to be having their one annual young and often to be carrying them after a 6-7 month gestation period. In a biodiverse world these things count.”

    These trees shouldn’t be going at all & for NCC to decide to chop them down in Spring when all the wildlife are birthing & the trees are fruiting providing a much needed food-source demonstrates to me that they have scant respect for wildlife. 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. Words.

    Congratulations to the Parks & Playgrounds Movement for taking this issue to the Land & Environment Court. I’m proud of every one involved.

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