The Inner West Council said in a press release dated 18th January 2017 that they are negotiating with power company Ausgrid to pay the costs of removing trees damaged by Ausgrid’s pruning & the planting of replacement trees.
The press release says –
- Council are “targeting the replanting of trees damaged by tree trimming in many inner west streets.”
- “Council officers have been working with Ausgrid officers to nominate selected trees that should be replaced.”
- “Ausgrid has agreed to assess and mostly likely approve the removal of these trees.”
While I am glad that Council are negotiating to have Ausgrid pay for the removal & replacement of the trees they have decimated by their pruning, I have some trepidation wondering just how many of our street trees will need to be removed. If you look at the state of the street trees around the former Marrickville municipality, you will see that the numbers will not be insignificant.
Ausgrid have created an unnecessary loss of the urban forest & one which will have an negative impact on the community in terms of heat, pollution, stormwater management & the mental/physical health of the community, not to mention the cost to wildlife who possibly lose their homes & food source.
There has been a lot of research published recently that found that street trees provide numerous benefits to human health. The lack of a good urban forest causes problems such as increased obesity, more respiratory & heart disease, more fatal heart attacks & the latest, more incidence of dementia. Also, a poor urban forest is known to increase unhappiness & depression in the community & poorer learning in children.
Therefore, it is not a small impact to the community by Ausgrid when they pruned our street trees to such a degree that council thinks the trees will never recover & need to be removed. It takes years for trees to grow to a point where they are providing viable benefits to the community, so all the health problems listed above are another impact caused by Ausgrid.
There are other tree losses that are not covered by this negotiation with Ausgrid by Council. Just in my block one mature tree in a front garden was removed because Ausgrid removed one whole side of the tree leaving an unsightly half a tree behind. It is not only street trees that have been negatively impacted.
I applaud the Inner West Council for pursuing this action with Ausgrid.
Council is also looking at an aerial bundle cabling program, which is wonderful. Take a look at the streets in the Botany area to see what the difference can mean to street trees. Ausgrid will not need to prune so harshly if there is aerial bundle cabling installed. It is a much better option than ordinary powerlines, though not as good as installing powerlines underground. The last option is more expensive, but should be a condition for all new developments in my opinion.
Council in lobbying Ausgrid to develop an Inner West Guideline for tree pruning “sympathetic to our urban metropolitan environment – an area that is not fire prone.”
This is also a great move by Council.
Further in the press release – “The recent discussions with Ausgrid comes after Council late last year received a commitment from Ausgrid that their tree trimming contractors will continue to reduce the cutback they carry out on local street trees to achieve a safe clearance from power lines. New contractors are now being directed to cut a reduced clearance of just 1 metre from low voltage wires, plus up to 0.5 metre for regrowth for a maximum of 1.5 metres in total resulting in a much improved result for local street trees than previous more radical pruning.”
Then why are Ausgrid, just in the last week, pruning way below the telecommunications cable? The photos I posted in this post of trees in Fotherington Street Enmore & Renwick Street Marrickville are January 2017 examples of the new improved pruning from Ausgrid. Sorry, but this was not the norm when Energy Australia did the street tree pruning.