Spin, spin and more spin 7.9.2011

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The spin goes on  about these poor trees: there was a fantastic ad in the Herald a couple of weeks ago from a group of architects, asking for an independent risk assessment of the Laman Street trees.

I hear that Council management subjected this poor group to a good talking-to soon afterwards, to Set Them Straight on a number of things.

Ir sounds almost like a re-run of the charrette last year, where the old adage was proved – You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

The presentation would have been slick and the tone would have varied from respectful to charming to offended (that one would be doubted) to condescending – and may even have descended to that almost bullying ‘are you QTRA-qualified?’ that was used on some of us last year.

Here’s some of the QRAP floated at the architects’ gig as heard by one of the attendees (who fell for it all, by the way) and my responses follow:

•    With the Laman Street figs currently being 24 metres high, they are the tallest trees in Newcastle, however
•    The trees have a ‘defective’ root structure caused by ‘poor (restrictive)’ planting locations, the use of BHP waste as road sub-base, and poor maintenance practices by Council and other authorities over the last 70 years. BHP waste has certainly stood these trees in good stead, hasn’t it, and poor tree maintenance practices have descended into no maintenance at all – the last ‘pruning’ done in Laman Street was about eighteen months ago.

•    The trees appear to only have roots running parallel to the kerbs, (east west) and nothing under the road or in adequate locations to provide appropriate support for these trees as they grow bigger. These Council ‘experts’ can’t seriously believe that ‘eccentric’ roots don’t hold up trees? Have they seen the trees in Angkor Wat?
•    This picture is from a travel website called Mom’s Guest House and shows trees with lineal roots.

    • The trees have a very healthy feeder root system, causing the tree canopies to continue expanding “up & out” at a ‘huge’ rate, however the ‘defective’ structural root system is ‘limited in its ability’ to continue supporting the upper level. Prove it. Hence they are becoming top-heavy and will eventually just fall over (due to gravity). When did their rate of growth become ‘huge’? I’ve been watching them and photographing them for two years and they haven’t changed noticeably. And we can’t have it both ways – they have great roots that are strong enough to give them great-looking, healthy canopies but inadequate roots for stability. And obviously all trees fail eventually, no tree lives forever, and we can’t keep them until they fall on a building or a person, but that day is nowhere as near as Council says it is. Maybe not this year or next, however ‘definitely within the next 5 to 10 years’. Again, they’re kidding aren’t they? I’m disappointed that as campaigners we have failed to scotch this 5, 10 or 15 year piece of QRAP misinformation. It has no basis in fact and one of Council’s own experts made the fatal error the year before all this blew up of predicting the trees would last 25-50 years and longer.
      •    When one single root of a Hills Figs in Tyrrell Street was cut from under a power cable some years ago, the whole tree collapsed onto the nearby preschool. This alerted Council Staff to the problem that the defective root structure could have on all such trees. So are we taking out all the fig trees in streets in Newcastle? And what are we doing with the information that over 1000 eucalypts blew down in the Pasha Bulker storm? There are quite a few of those we’ll need to get rid of. What we should learn from this is not to cut tree roots but Council still do this to straighten up gutters.

        •    In the ‘last few years’

see above

      the canopy of the figs have grown significantly above the Library and Art Gallery, which has previously offered them protection from the strong southerly winds. So again the bigger and bigger tops, more windage and a defective structural root system providing no lateral stability in the north south direction put the trees at great risk.

How many wind storms have they survived now? And ‘windage’ encourages trees to produce roots that keep them upright.

        •    Most experts agree that the Hill’s Figs’ life span is only about 80 to 90 years, so with these trees already being about 70 years old, not removing them now is just “putting off the inevitable”.

No one knows the life span of urban Hill’s figs but Mr Marsden’s assertion in his report that they ‘start to fail’ at around 70 years of age was one of the more unscientific and illogical things I’ve ever read. 

        •    During the 2007 Pasha Bulker Storm, 5 of these Laman Street Hills Figs demonstrated structural failure of the root system.

I hope Council’s arborist didn’t use the word ‘failure’ because they had finally stopped doing that as they know it’s wrong.

        Three of these trees were removed after this storm. Investigation of the root system from these trees confirmed the inadequacy of the structural system.

Not true. Digging around the roots showed some roots were broken – at least one arborist believes if the trees had been left the roots could have repaired themselves over the next two seasons. These were trees that were guilty of moving enough to break old pavement that had previously been repaired and that were stable in the ground but had moved centimetres away from the gutter.[I get so sick of saying this stuff.] •    The report prepared by Tree Logic and the Probability of Risk formula has no bearing on this argument. Treelogic’s work doesn’t suit NCC for this any more, it would seem – but it’s OK to have them take part in Council’s tree audits regularly.The evidence has already shown that the trees fail. Rubbish. Other trees have failed – that doesn’t mean we can expect Laman Street to fail in the near future.  –  The only question is when? Why not have the trees independently assessed or subject the existing evidence to independent assessment. That would give us a better idea of their stability.

The old rock-solid case should stand NCC in good stead, rather than their attempts to brow-beat a room full of professionals.  Home

 

 

 

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One Response to “Spin, spin and more spin 7.9.2011”

  1. Shepsta Says:

    Interesting piece in the herald today, $7 Million for Art Gallery redevelopment. Surprise Surprise. Whats in the way of the art gallery redevelopment you might ask? Why the Laman St fig trees of course
    http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/7million-for-newcastle-art-gallery/2284109.aspx

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