The Last Word. Maybe. 12.2.2014

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wpid-2013-10-26-09.47.04.jpgIn this post is a document released by Council under GIPA that is worth a read. My interpretation of the two letters included is that Council says risk was not the reason the trees were removed. Which surprises me not at all. I’m just surprised to see it in writing.

The back story is that three arboriculture and risk experts wrote a journal article about Laman Street. These experts were Mark Hartley who did two paid reports for Save Our Figs, Prof Mark Stewart who did a presentation to Council about the QTRA (quantified tree risk assessment) calculations made early on and errors made, in his view, therein and Dr Dealga O’Callaghan, an arboricultural consultant.

Remember when the trees were said to be as dangerous as a huge tree full of obvious decay leaning at an angle of 45 degrees over a bench continuously occupied by someone who could neither see not hear? Walking in Laman Street was more dangerous than downhill skiing. Remember?

The article they wrote pointed out errors in risk calculations relating to the trees.

Council complained to the journal about the article.

Responding to the complaint required a GIPA request to Council.

Council released the letters.

13.2.2014 edit: the complaint was dismissed.

The link to the article and letters is below.

My favourite part is in the September 18th 2013 letter, point 14 – the italics and highlighting are mine:

“[The authors of the article] are wrong in stating that Council made a decision to remove the trees based on the level of risk…there is no evidence whatsoever to show that risk estimations for the Laman Street trees were ever considered as anything more than aids to Council’s decision-making. The documentation published on Council’s website shows the extent and importance of considerations other than risk that contributed to the decision to remove and replace the Laman Street trees.

“These included environmental, financial, liability, social and heritage studies, facilitated design workshops as well as practical adn political considerations. Over the course of three years Council developed and implemented a responsible and defensible risk management approach whilst planning the renewal of Newcastle’s most important cultural space. Estimations of risk contributed to the process but there is no basis for framing the Laman Street issue as a debate hinging on mathematical probabilities a attempted in the journal article.”

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Words fail me. Almost. You could have been forgiven for thinking risk was an issue – every time an alarm went off when the wind blew, or a new security detail was employed or a new row of fences went up.

You could have been forgiven for thinking that risk was the issue when the Roads Act was invoked to remove the trees.

You could have been forgiven for thinking no planning for the ‘renewal’ of Laman Street was going on when Council told the Land and Environment Court that no development was planned for the street.

Whatever.

This is really long. 19 pages. It’s called the gift of the gab. Enjoy.

letter 18 Sept 2013

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One Response to “The Last Word. Maybe. 12.2.2014”

  1. Terry McCauley Says:

    Thanks Caity for the information. I will try and read (if I can stay awake)! My recollection is that Council steady fastly refused to share any of their documentation in relation to their decision making processes for the removal of the Laman Street Fig trees. If they now claim they would have shared them with experts then why not share and present them to the community? We were silenced at every opportunity by them.
    So easy to make these claims after the event!

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