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12-15 street trees were removed from Campbell Street down Unwins Bridge Road.

I wrote about the street tree removal along Unwins Bridge Road in February.  See

Around 12 – 15 Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) had been chopped down from the corner of Campbell street & along the eastern side of Unwins Bridge Road.   I wrote to Inner West Council to ask why & they replied also in February.  Apologies for the delay.  I am busy with other things over the last few months, though hopefully things should return to normal soon.

Council said the trees were removed as part of WestConnex works.

“Approval for their removal is as per the Environmental Impact Statement issued for the New M5. The WestConnex New M5 Arborist Report for Campbell Street and Campbell Road can be found on the WestConnex website.”

Council also said that replacement trees will be planted somewhere in the area to make up for the loss in this particular location.  So at least we know.


No street trees this side of the road anymore – why?

I suddenly remembered that I did not post about the street tree removal at Unwins Bridge Road St Peters that I saw way back in December 2017.   Better late than never.

Around 12 – 15 street trees had been chopped down from the corner of Campbell street & along the eastern side of Unwins Bridge Road.   The trees were Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) & most of them reached to the height limit below the powerlines. The area looks stark without them.  Luckily the residents there have big healthy fig trees across the road to provide a visual of green.

I spoke to two residents who said they came home from work to see the trees gone & had not received notification.  One resident was angry.  The other was feeling resigned.  None of us could work out why the trees were removed, though we did wonder whether it was connected to WestConnex, which barrels on down Campbell Street devouring everything in its way.

Street trees are vitally important in this location.  They always were because this is a main road, but the increased traffic of a motorway going through a densely populated suburb makes trees & their pollution management even more important.  Essential in my opinion.

So I thought it would be a good idea to revisit to see what has happened since I last went.  The answer is nothing.  The stumps are still in the ground & the footpath & houses are unprotected from the traffic zooming past.  It is hot too.  Such a shame.

I am hoping that in the next couple of months we will see replacement trees.   Surely the residents will not be expected to live without street trees.  Not there.

Another view further up Unwins Bridge Road

A small section of Sydney Park that was cleared to widen Campbell Street St Peters for WestConnex.

130,000 hectares of vegetation, including trees, has been lost to the construction of Stage 3 of WestConnex along the 7.5-kilometre tunnels between Haberfield & St Peters.  Sydney Park took a severe battering losing more then 500 trees.

In 2016 Roads & Maritine Services said that they would plant 3,500 replacement trees of a minimum pot size of 75 litres.  The trees would be about 3-metres or taller in size.  However, they have changed their mind allowing replacement trees of 150 mm pot size, “in pots as tall as a Bic-brand ballpoints…”  See –

“The RMS’ revised tree policy says only 500 trees will now be 75 litres; it argues there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment.”

The remaining 3,000 trees to be planted will be saplings.  My observation over the years is that saplings have a much harder time surviving than do more advanced size trees, so there is a big chance a large percentage of these trees will be lost.  Saplings are more sensitive to lack of water & they are also easier to vandalize.  They will be small enough for people to tread on them or simply snap their trunks.  If they do survive it will take years for these saplings to grow to a size where their risk is lower.

If as they say, “there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment,” what will happen in the unlikely event that all 3,000 saplings survive & grow to a decent size?  The government’s argument does not seem logical.  If you say you cannot fit in all the trees, why would planting saplings help the issue?

I think this change is being done to save money, yet the lack of decent size trees will have a cost on the community in terms of negative health impacts from the poor air quality produced by the thousands of vehicles that will use this motorway every day.  The very least the community needs is trees.  Filtered smoke stacks are essential too, but so far, this is not happening either.

There is a kind of despair I have noticed in my local community whenever WestConnex is raised.  People are angry that whole communities are being demolished & separated for this motorway.  It’s like a giant iron snake cleaving its way through the inner west & its source of nutrition is houses & trees.  If we do have to have this polluting road, then at least it should be hidden behind a bank of trees to not make the residents a further casualty in terms of loss of health.

There has been an abundance of research of late all showing how necessary trees are for human health.  Particulate matter spewed out in vehicle exhaust causes irritated eyes, nose & throat, heart & lung disease, including asthma & chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, increased hospital admissions & a reduction in life expectancy.  This is what the NSW government is gifting the people of the inner west if they do not plant sufficient trees to help mitigate the impact of this motorway.  I would argue that there will be a negative health impact of the motorway anyway, but to not plant decent sized trees is just asking for trouble.

A section of the tree removal in Sydney Park for WestConnex

A section of the site of  what will be the St Peters Interchange for WestConnex Motorway

Signs from the community are everywhere and everywhere a sign is designates a tree that will be chopped down for the Motorway.

We had a look at Campbell & Euston Roads around Sydney Park yesterday.  Even though I expected this having seen the beginning of the demolition, actually looking at the carnage was difficult.  I cannot believe the size of the spaghetti junction (officially known as the St Peters Interchange).  It is mammoth.

I found it sad to look at mounds of earth where once were people’s homes & where a significant band of very tall trees once stood.

I am really interested to see if the artist’s impression of the green & leafy St Peters Interchange will actually look like it is depicted 10-years post completion.  In the image trees soar above the elevated roadway.  It looks almost utopian.

The Sydney Park side of Campbell Street has yet to undergo tree clearing.  To see all those beautiful mature trees that will be chopped down & mulched is sobering.  I hope we do not end up with yet another main road devoid of street trees.

The Euston Road side of Sydney Park is a mass of dirt.  What was once thick trees in the park is now waiting to become bitumen.  I don’t know whether this was true for all hours of the day, but whenever I have gone there, this road has always been sleepy.  Yes, there was traffic, but not much of it.  That will change once it becomes part of the motorway, but I do wonder where the traffic will go once it gets here.

While we were looking through the cyclone fencing at the old Dial a Dump site, a security man drove up & parked a couple of metres from where we were standing & watched us.  I found this action surprising as we were on a public road outside a gate in broad daylight, dressed in normal clothes, making no movement to enter the property & carrying nothing more than a camera.  He was parked further down Campbell Street, but chose to come real close.  It was somewhat threatening.

Lastly, the Stop WestConnex community must be feeling vindicated when the news this week released that the $16.8 billion price tag for WestConnex motorway is projected to blossom to almost $29 billion more than expected, at least this is what analysis by the City of Sydney Council suggests.

“The analysis, which is disputed by the state government, argues WestConnex and its connecting roads combined will cost more than $45 billion, after the extra roads are added to the project’s $16.8 billion public price tag.”

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said, “Just one exit from WestConnex in St Peters, for example, will require more than $1 billion of publicly funded road upgrades to manage the extra 30,000 cars that will pour into the area daily.”  See-   

Every entrance & exit from WestConnex will require road work.

A section of the tree removal in Sydney Park for WestConnex

Another section of WestConnex tree removal in Sydney Park

These trees have yet to be chopped down.

Parramatta Road Stanmore – where are the street trees?  They only start when you cross the border into the City of Sydney municipality.

I read an interesting article in The Guardian yesterday titled, ‘The car is ingrained into people here’: West Midlands faces air pollution crisis.’  See –

The West Midlands is a region in England identified as an area of high air pollution air due to motorways & other high traffic roads. The United Kingdom has ten pollution hotspots & five of them are within the West Midlands region.

“The government’s own figures show air pollution [in this area] is responsible for almost 3,000 deaths a year ……”

This grabbed my attention.  3,000 deaths a year from something preventable is astounding.  What a powerful advertisement for public transport!

In June 2010, I posted about research on how living within a 500-metre  radius of a major thoroughfare was likely to cause major health issues & early death.  See –   I found it interesting to see that the distance from a main road in this UK study had dropped to only 150-metres.   In reality the situation would be much worse had they included the other 350-metres.

The Guardian article said thousands of British children are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution due to schools & nurseries located within this 150-metre zone.   The article also said that none of the staff or parents of the ten worst affected nurseries in Birmingham were aware that this was a significant health issue for the children & employees.

Looking further, a whopping 2,091 places of learning for children from preschool to further education centres across England & Wales are within 150-metres of a high-traffic high-pollution road.  This is not a great start in life for these children.

Birmingham Council said it “was a challenge to change people’s attitudes to driving in a city that “grew up on the car industry”.  According to the council’s own figures 900 people die from poor air quality in the city each year, compared to 30 from road accidents.”

Birmingham Council is improving the cycle routes saying, “there are 200,000 journeys of under a mile in this city each day – it is about removing some of those trips.”  Inner West & City of Sydney Councils are doing similar with cycleways being added to allow people to ride safely on the street.

This is a great start, but the WestConnex Motorway cleaving its way through our municipality is of great concern for the future health of our community.  We are already burdened with a large number of high traffic roads through high density housing.

That the WestConnex Authority plans to install unfiltered stacks to release the air pollution from the tunnels has always concerned me.   I don’t know how much it would cost to have the air filtered to trap particulate matter & other air pollutants, but I do know that the future health costs of the community around these unfiltered stacks will be considerable.  Unless we go down in vast numbers, the health issues will be ignored & subsumed into the usual statistics.  Personally, I think the government is playing risk games with the future health of the community.

Also interesting is the image in the article of the spaghetti junction near Birmingham. It reminded me of the spin we are being given about our own impeding spaghetti junction at the massive Dial a Dump site at St Peters.

The WestConnex Authority says the area underneath the St Peters Interchange will become a tree-filled park with cycleways & walking paths.  It will be presented to the community as new green space in place of the large track of land & hundreds of mature trees taken from Sydney Park recently to widen the road for WestConnex Motorway.

This is an incredibly poor exchange – take from a beautiful & very much loved park & give back a spaghetti junction with hundreds of thousands of vehicles traveling above & spewing their pollution down on the new green space.

For the life of me I cannot imagine wanting to spend free time under a motorway with particulate matter raining down on me no matter how attractive it looks.  However, what cannot be seen will likely entice some people to think it is nice & safe to play there & I bet barbeques will be added to lure people in.

To cope with a climate change future & to cope with the air pollution from increased traffic in our densely built municipality, we need more trees.  We need trees & shrubs in gardens & more street trees.  The street trees species need to be able to reach a height above 5-metres & have broader canopies.  Big trees need to be planted in spaces where Energy Australia has no excuse to start pruning them because we can see that their pruning has reduced so many of our street trees into mangled messes or to a shadow of their former selves.

If we do not make a significant change in the streetscapes & gardens of our municipality, we will pay the price of increasing poor health in our children & ourselves & perhaps an early death.

We also need to ditch the car & walk, cycle & take more public transport whenever we can.  It will take a shift in our thinking & motivation, but we can do it.  I think one day we will be forced to.

Showing a partial view over the 16 hectares of what is to be the St Peters Interchange. Even though I expected a building site, actually seeing people’s homes and the trees removed shocked me.

May Street Reserve Corner of Campbell Street and Unwins Bridge Road St Peters has been destroyed and all the mature trees removed.  One more patch of green space removed in an area with the least amount of green space in Australia.  

Sydney Park 2016

Sydney Park 2016.   NOTE:  This photo does not show the location of the proposed development.  

Can you imagine a 6-storey, 400+ apartment building in Sydney Park?

No?  Well, the Alexandria Residents’ Action Group blog says that a “proposed new development will replace what is currently a low rise warehouse/office building that is tucked behind a row of trees next to the lakes.”

Sydney Park is easily the best park in this area.  Even though it is located within the City of Sydney boundary, for many residents of the former Marrickville municipality, this is regarded as one of our favourite parks.

It’s bad enough that the WestConnex Authority have plans that will impact on Sydney Park.

The Alexandria Residents’ Action Group  are asking the community to lodge an objection against this DA by the end of this week.  The blog has a link to a template to help make this easy for you.

For more information see –

The yellow dot marks the tree to be removed.

The yellow dot marks the tree to be removed.

Marrickville Council has given notification of their intention to remove an Argyle Apple (Eucalyptus cineria) outside 7 Unwins Bridge Road St Peters.

They give the following reasons for removal –

  • “Council recently engaged an external consult to undertake a Picus® Sonic Tomograph Test on the tree which revealed extensive internal decay from termite attack. This has compromised structural integrity of the tree.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Manchurian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) as part of the 2016 Street Tree Planting Program.

The Manchurian Pear is a deciduous ornamental tree that grows to approximately 9-metres tall by 7-metres wide. Their leaves turn red in autumn & they produce small white flowers in late winter to early spring.  The tree produces inedible, greenish-yellow, globose fruit up to 3 cm in diameter.

As far as I am aware these trees have no benefit to wildlife, though perhaps the bees like the flowers.

Gardening Australia says the following about Manchurian Pear trees –

The tree has inherent branch weaknesses, which means that it can fall apart & in a home garden that’s a considerable safety problem. The biggest problem is included bark, which is where the bark grows into the junction between the branches, and means you don’t really get good, firm attachment. The result is that the branch has simply peeled off and broken. Although good bark is produced to heal the wound, it’s still an unsightly feature and unsafe when the branch breaks.
 Another problem is a V-crotch or an acute branch structure. It’s where one branch has grown quickly and with the weight of foliage it acts like a lever and that can easily lead to a break.”  See –

There are no powerlines on this side of Unwins Bridge Road, so there is room for taller trees.  The line of Paperbark street trees mixed with the Argyle apples looks wonderful in my opinion, but these are slowly being replaced with pear trees.

Marrickville Council appears to be using these trees along main roads, though in contrast they are also planting the native Queensland Brush Box trees along major roads.   I personally do not like the ornamental pear trees because I think they create a bleak landscape for 5-7 months of the year. The Brushbox supports wildlife & to me, planting for biodiversity should be a priority.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 14th August 2015.

Eucalyptus cinerea to be chopped down.

Eucalyptus cinerea to be chopped down.

Marrickville Council has given notice that they intend to remove an Argyle Apple (Eucalyptus cinerea) outside 1–7 Unwins Bridge Road St Peters.

They give the following reasons for removal –

  • “Major mechanical wound to primary branch which has left the tree structurally unsound & unable to be remedially pruned.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public & property.”

Council says they will replace this tree with a Manchurian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) as part of the 2015 Street Tree Planting Program.

I wondered why this tree was not picked up in the recent Tree Inventory.  The wound is old & even the yellow paint to alert trucks is worn.  While I was looking at this tree a man (who said he was a local Arborist) walking along the footpath joined me.  After looking at the tree he said he would just remove the branch nearest the old wound because it was hanging across the road – for safety reasons.  Other than that, he would leave the tree alone & monitor it.

The Manchurian pear is an ornamental deciduous tree native to Korea, Japan & far eastern Russia.  It produces clusters of small white flowers in early spring. In autumn the leaves turn a range of plum, scarlet & gold. It grows to 9-metres tall by 7-metres wide. The seeds are inedible & as far as I can ascertain, it has no use for wildlife.

Council has planted hundreds, if not thousands of Manchurian pear trees across the municipality. They seem to be the preferred tree for main roads, but this is only my perception.

A Gardening Australia Factsheet says of this tree – “The tree has inherent branch weaknesses, which means that it can fall apart & in a home garden that’s a considerable safety problem.”

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd April 2015.

Arrow indicating the branch the Arborist said he would prune.  You can see that the wound is old.

Arrow indicating the branch the Arborist said he would prune. You can see that the wound is old, as is the yellow paint on the wound.  The branch on the right is not connected to the injury.

Size 7 show to give an indication of the width of the trunk.

Size 7 shoe to give an indication of the width of the trunk.

Mary Street St Peters.

Mary Street St Peters.

I drove past this work at the corner of Mary Street & Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham a few weeks ago.   Part of the road had been reclaimed to widen the footpath & I presume to manage traffic.   I saw that space had been left for three verge gardens & hoped at least two of them would include a small street tree.

I drove past again today & all three verge gardens have been planted out, but alas, no trees included.  I think this is such a shame because –

  1. At 16.3% canopy cover, we desperately need more trees.
  2. This street has very few trees.
  3. Trees would improve the streetscape here.

Council could have planted those thin columnar ornamental pear trees that they are planting across the municipality.   I don’t like these trees at all, but even these would be better than nothing.

Verge garden planting at Mary Street St Peters.

Verge garden planting at Mary Street St Peters.

The biggest news to hit Marrickville municipality happened two days ago when the St Peters Interchange for the WestConnex Motorway was announced.  Prime Minister Abbott arrived to do streetside TV media saying how wonderful the Interchange would be, especially to the residents of Western Sydney.

The St Peters Interchange requires the forced acquisition of 80 houses, utterly devastating to all those families who found out that they were to lose their home only after WestConnex representatives knocked on their door to give them ‘Acquisition Packs.’  Those who were at work came home to find these in their mailbox.

The following are some points regarding the St Peters Interchange from the WestConnex website –

  • “The 16 hectare industrial site at St Peters as a key interchange…” This is Dial a Dump, made famous because it was to be the site for coal seam gas mining exploration drilling, until massive community opposition put a stop to this.
  • They have acknowledged the failure of the M5 East – “…lodging the planning application for higher, wider, flatter & future-proofed tunnels to end the daily battle on the M5 East. The new tunnels will more than double capacity of the M5 East, with the New M5 tunnels built to accommodate three lanes in each direction ….  The current M5 East was arguably Sydney’s worst tunnel project with design flaws that have created frustration for the 100,000 motorists who use the corridor every day.” It was only opened in 2001.
  • “The St Peters Interchange will provide access to key roads in the area, such as Euston Road & Campbell Street & the project will include widening these roads as well as a new bridge over Alexandra Canal to Bourke Road.”  I understand that part of Simpson Park will be lost. This is not good for our municipality, which already has the dubious fame of having the least green space in Australia.

You can read the full information here –

The following is a Press Release from Marrickville Mayor Gardiner who does not mince words, expressing Marrickville Council’s outrage over the plans.  Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge



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