This heritage-listed Fig tree was chopped down for the development of Perth Esplanade. Photo by Leisha Jack with thanks.

And down comes a well-loved community & environmental asset. Photo by Leisha Jack with thanks.

Grief expressed by the community regarding the tree loss for the Perth Esplanade. Photo by Leisha Jack with thanks.

1.   The community fought unsuccessfully to retain a heritage-protected beautiful & healthy 100-year-old Moreton Bay Fig tree, which was chopped down as part of the Western Australian government’s Elizabeth Quay redevelopment.   Authority Chief Executive Kieran Kinsella said, “…with an estimated weight of 600 tonnes, significant modifications & rehabilitation of the road infrastructure, specialist crane equipment & the removal of other trees would be required to move it.  Relocation of the tree could result in the transfer of contaminated materials to another site.”  This is just one of 160 trees situated in the development area that will be removed over the next 6-months.

A wonderful article about the development & tree removal from City Gatekeepers says, what they have forgotten in their logic is that these gracious old trees are an attraction in their own right, with civic value well beyond the new man-made environment which will replace them.”  One would have to wonder why the designers could not incorporate heritage-protected & much loved trees in their plans, but it seems paving has won out.  The Perth City Gatekeepers held an event on Sunday 1 July 2012 in memory of the Perth Esplanade & the destruction of this heritage listed precinct.  See –

2.   The NSW state government’s proposal to remove the Local Councils from approving development applications, with the only requirement is that the DA conform to the Local Environment Plan (LEP) & if it does, gets automatic approval, is really worrying.  DA hearings, formal objections & debates over contentious developments could disappear under plans by the state government to radically overhaul the planning act.” If this proposal gets approved, it will mean that developers get massive rights over those of the community.

The Minister for Planning Brad Hazzard said, “he was determined to end the current practice where individual development applications turn into ”site-specific planning wars” & introduce a system where communities agree in advance on building types, heights & densities for a whole area. Once such agreements were reached they would not be varied & developers could get on & build.”

I find this really interesting, as our own LEP has been altered on around 100 issues last month, despite that it was a done deal & finalized last year.  If I understand correctly 3 developers want to build housing for around 7,500 people ABOVE the extra 4,100 dwelling targets to 2031 planned for in the Marrickville LEP 2011.  If these new developments get approved, & some of our Councillors are stating that they are excited about this, then Marrickville LGA will be getting housing for an extra 11,600 more people, not 4,100 people.  All well & good some would say, except the infrastructure is hardly coping now, before any significant development has even happened.  See –

Minister Hazzard & all Local Councils would be aware of the miniscule amount of community involvement regarding the affairs of Council, except for the odd item.  The Marrickville LGA community generally does not take a high interest in what goes on in Council for a multitude of reasons, often time-related, & this probably is the case in most Councils, so this new law is banking on people not knowing what is going on. I believe the developers will be the winners & certainly not the community.

City of Canterbury Council published a article on their website about the proposed changes to the planning laws – “…. to propose that Councillors should have no role in determining DAs – is totally unacceptable & is an insult to their integrity.  In his attempt to woo developers, the Minister has turned his back on residents – who don’t have the ability to appeal their concerns to the Land & Environment Court – they appeal to their Councillors to consider a DA on its merits – taking into consideration such issues as the amenity & character of the street & its surrounds, & more intimate details of the design of the proposal which may have an impact on their amenity & enjoyment of their homes.”

3.   The NSW state government is looking at building a Greenway from the Cooks River all the way to the city via a ‘City West Cycle link’ that hasn’t been created yet.  The current Greenway goes from the Cooks River to Iron Cove.  Friends of the Greenway spokesperson said, “… without any details & no consultation so far we cannot say whether it will be anything like the Greenway vision the community has campaigned for.”  Let’s see what transpires & how long it takes.

4.   During the last weekend in March 2012 Bermagui on the NSW South Coast participated in the 2012 Bermagui Bioblitz for the Atlas of Life looking at biodiversity in the area. This was part of the national biodiversity project, the Atlas of Living Australia.  “Over the 30 hours of the survey more than 200 people were engaged on 42 different surveys of all the living things that could be found from clifftop plants, to nocturnal marsupials & frogs, shell death assemblages & night time scuba & snorkel searches & many more.  Local & visiting naturalists & scientists led the surveys & generously shared their expertise with the many local & visiting enthusiasts who were keen to explore this small location with many different habitats.”  School children also helped by identifying “animals & plants from beach, estuary & wetlands.  ….over 500 different species recorded during the Bioblitz.”

I would love a Bioblitz to happen for the Cooks River, the parks along the river & for the Greenway & Wolli Creek.  Imagine what we would find & how this information would help both adults & children learn about the importance of these areas.  I also think that it would help reduce vandalism & littering as people would be connecting in a deep way with their environment.  I would love the Councils of the Cooks River Alliance to decide to do a Bioblitz, not hire consultants for the job, but instead involve schools & the community as well as experts in their fields to assist.  We could learn so much from what was collected or photographed in a weekend.

5.  Yarra City Council wants a new bylaw that forbids people from feeding possums in Curtain Square Carlton North for “ecological reasons & also to avoid nuisances arising, such as food on the ground creating litter/encouraging vermin.”  Problem is that most of the trees in Curtain Square are exotics so the poor possums have no habitat or natural food source.  The Council strategy is contraceptive implants for some possums, tree banding so the possums can’t climb the exotic trees & they also plan to plant other trees for the sterile possums.  Animal Active, an animal rights group, say they will continue to feed the possums.

6.   The City of Sydney & the City of Melbourne are changing planning laws to encourage the conversion of roofs into green roof & also to include green walls.  The 6-green-star-rated at 1 Bligh Street Building recently completed a 40-metre by 9-metre green wall that is incredibly beautiful & is a wonderful asset to the area.  I made a short video of it here –

7.  Bad news in that Myrtle Rust has been found in the Marrickville Community Nursery. Good news in that it was picked up early.  Marrickville Council’s Environmental Volunteers Newsletter said,some small patches of Myrtle Rust were spotted on one of the Callistemon pinifolius in the shade house & on some paperbark tubestock (Melaleuca nodosa).  Only time will tell how Myrtle Rust will affect the Marrickville area, & what will be the best course of action regarding the propagation & use of these susceptible species.”  Information about Myrtle Rust & a great photo of it here –

Greenway sign at Dulwich Hill