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This tree news is a month old. I wrote the post, but didn’t put it up as there were other issues I was more interested in at the time. It’s still relevant.

1.      The Chinderah Fig tree gets to live on.  The residents of Chinderah in

I think this Fig is in Enmore Park

Northern NSW mounted a campaign demanding that Tweed Shire Council overhaul their tree protection laws to save a 114-year-old commemorative White Fig tree. The Fig located in the grounds of Chinderah Tavern lost a major limb.  Kingscliff arborist Brett Hamlin was the first to prevent the removal of the tree by staging a ‘sit-in’ until other residents arrived to take over the fight. “Tweed councillor Katie Milne said the tree, which stood on private property, should be protected by council rules or listed on a significant tree register, but was not. 
‘The council has resisted all past attempts at adopting some heritage controls which could protect important trees like this one,’ she said.
 ‘It’s hard to believe the Tweed with so many historic & significant trees doesn’t have protection for them, even the Gold Coast has a blanket TPO (tree preservation order) & Byron Council also has them.” http://www.tweedecho.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2332&Itemid=538

On 14th September 2010, Tweed Shire Council held an Extraordinary Council Meeting about the tree. Councillors voted to provide financial assistance to stabilize the tree, & the Hotel have undertaken to prune the tree “to ensure the tree can remain, while meeting the company’s health and safety and insurance requirements.” http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/ChinderahTreeUpdate.aspxon

On 16th September 2010 Tweed Council decided against seeking a Heritage Order to protect the tree “despite assurances from experts that it was in reasonable health & could last another 100 years. Instead the Council accepted a non-binding assurance from the owner of the Chinderah Tavern not to remove the 114-year-old White Fig from a hotel car park & to undertake urgent maintenance work.” http://www.tweedecho.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2369&Itemid=800

2.      Let’s hope the same can happen for the Laman Street Figs in Newcastle.  Every night between 6-8pm the residents meet for a nightly vigil as part of a peaceful protest to save these trees from removal. The Parks & Playground Association took Newcastle City Council on behalf of the community to both the Land & Environment Court & the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court’s decision should be published soon.  I hope the community wins & these beautiful & healthy trees get to live on for another few decades. http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/activists-make-a-last-stand-for-newcastles-figs/1945970.aspx There are links to 5 other articles about these trees, including ‘Teddy on Guard’ to save Fig Trees where kids have been leaving their stuff toys & ribbons toed around the trees. It’s quite heartbreaking really. – http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/teddy-on-guard-to-save-fig-trees/1946849.aspx Then a second Arborist took a position against the assessment of Newcastle Council. Sean Freeman who has worked as a Consultant Arborist for Local Government said, ‘‘My time in [Laman] street didn’t leave me with an impression that the trees were an enormous risk … to public safety.’’ http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/arborist-questions-fig-tree-safety-risk/1951564.aspx You can keep up to date with what is happening with the Laman Street Figs by visiting – http://saveourfigs.wordpress.com/

3.       A road called Peninsula Link on an environmentally sensitive Westfield property in Frankston South of Melbourne in Victoria has angered locals who are protesting the removal of trees & native bushland that provides habitat to endangered animals.  A picket line has been happening for the past 6 weeks preventing work starting. http://frankston-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/peninsula-link-protest-escalates/ There are 4 other articles providing a history of the protest.

4.      The Euclyptus trees in McLaren Vale South Australia are causing concern to the locals who fear they are sick. Dean Nicolle, a eucalypt specialist from the Currency Creek Arboretum said, “A proliferation of seasonal boring insects are currently making their way through branches, causing weak points. The native corellas & cockatoos have been particularly vigilant about weaseling out the young borer larvae for food, which has exacerbated the weak points, while high growth & a large number of flowers on branches have made them heavier and more likely to fall off.” http://www.independentweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/trees-at-breaking-point/1946487.aspx

 

Tree of Heaven - a straggly plant that fills the air with the most gorgeous perfume during hot summer nights. It is a self-seeding weed & the birds continue the spread of this plant when they eat the berries

This post has nothing to do with trees, but I believe it is of interest in light of the fact that Marrickville LGA is about to undergo quite substantial high-rise development.

In 2002 Council decided to create a new rate of ‘rates’ to apply to large shopping centres like Marrickville Metro.  It charged Marrickville Metro the new ‘rate,’ higher than the rate that applies to homes & smaller businesses.

The company paid the new rate each year, but in 2008 objected & took the case to the Land & Environment Court. The court ruled in Marrickville Council’s favour.  The company appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal.  It argued the new rate should be overruled on a raft of grounds such as: Council had failed to comply with various sections of the Local Government Act, the rate was unfair, the rate was targeting only one site (Marrickville Metro), the 2002 & subsequent decisions about the new rate were manifestly unreasonable, the rate was imposed for improper purpose, the rate was discriminatory, some Councillors who voted in favour of the rate were biased.

On 24th June 2010, the 3 judges of the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed every ground of the company’s appeal. At paragraph 198 of the judgment Justice John Basten put it beautifully & succinctly, where he wrote:  In many respects the company’s submissions “were simply untenable” & its arguments “were largely misconceived.”

The General Manager’s report in 2002 that examined the rationale for the higher ‘rate’ said:

Council may wish to consider the following factors:

  • Larger shopping centres may attract additional traffic to the LGA & may concentrate traffic emanating from within the LGA placing a proportionately greater pressure on existing road & footpath infrastructure than other shopping configurations.
  • Larger shopping centres attract larger retailers who are more likely to draw from a wider employment pool than that available within the LGA. Small shops along shopping strips & local businesses may be more likely to employ local staff enhancing local employment & local economic prosperity.
  • Council may determine that the rate to be applied to shopping strips should be proportionately less than that applying to larger shopping areas to promote the survival of shopping strips. Apart from the more obvious issue of maintaining the economic vitality of local businesses, this action would support the following Council initiatives:

– Mainstreet strategies to promote local business

– Streetscape works designed to enhance the look & feel of shopping areas

– Community Safety objectives which are enhanced when people are attracted to prosperous, pleasant, well lit, local shopping areas

– Access for the elderly to shopping facilities particularly where car transport is not available.

  • Enhancing the economic viability of suburban businesses may assist in maintaining the individual character of shopping & business zones within the Marrickville LGA. This would reflect the cultural, social & economic needs of the diverse range of residents within these areas & may help promote the unique characteristics of the Marrickville Council area from a tourist perspective.”

This is a landmark decision. Well done Marrickville Council.  Businesses & developments are getting bigger & bigger, bringing increasing pressure on public infrastructure & impacts on the community that Council ultimately needs to pay for. It would be nice if the JRPP keep the above points in the General Manager’s report  at the forefront of their mind when considering applications for new large developments.

Save Hoskins Park – This has nothing to do with Report from the Gallery, but it’s terrific news that can’t wait.  The community won in their opposition to the DA in Piggot Street Dulwich Hill that would have seen 2 double fronted Federation houses demolished, many mature trees removed & building of 11 three storey town houses, 9 of which would loom over Hoskins Park.  See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/3-more-street-trees-up-for-removal-local-news/ The DA was not passed & the residents are extremely happy with Marrickville Council.

From the Delegated Authority Report: The proposed development fails to satisfy the objectives & controls contained in Marrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001 & Marrickville Development Control Plan No. 35 – Urban Housing (Vol. 1).  It is considered that the proposed development would result in significant impacts on the streetscape, Hoskins Park & amenity enjoyed by residents of adjoining & surrounding developments.  Accordingly it is considered that the application should be refused.

View of the DA site from the high end of Hoskins Park

All up 154 submissions objecting to the proposed development were sent from the community.  Marrickville Heritage Society also put in a submission against this DA.  The community petition against the DA had 770 signatures.  This is a fabulous response from the community. Compliments to the community group Save Hoskins Park for they worked hard to ensure their cause became known far wider than just in the immediate area.  Well done & thank you also to Marrickville Council.

On to the meeting proper. Last Tuesday was the Development Assessment Meeting.  Clr Tsardoulias was absent.  The following is how I understood the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

The following DA decisions were deferred so that the Councillors could do a site inspection: 61 Edith St St Peters, 41 Neville St Marrickville, 14 Vernon St Lewisham & 15 Palace St Petersham.  There was a bit of commotion about one of the DAs being deferred with a member of the gallery jumping up & saying it was a disgrace.  He very much wanted the DA dismissed that night & judging by the nods from others, he was not alone.  Shows you how stressful development can be to the community.

Backpacker Accommodation at 43-51 Addison Road Marrickville – This DA was previously refused in December 2009.  See  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/report-from-the-gallery-2nd-march-2010/

This time they proposed an 80 bed establishment with off-street parking for 7 vehicles, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  In recognition of the public

This Camphor Laurel tree is just over 2 metres wide

disturbances by intoxicated guests, they proposed to have a security guard patrol the local streets hourly from 9pm -3am Sunday to Thursdays & on-site Fridays & Saturdays “with authority to stamp out unacceptable behaviour.”

A speaker from the Backpacker Advisory Association of NSW addressed the Councillors.  He spoke about how ‘house rules’ will be sufficiently communicated to guests & enforced if need be.  He said there would be a full-time manager on-site who will have access to full-time security “which is unusual” & they have made provision for 6 neighbourhood meetings.  In regards to parking he said most backpackers buy cars to go on a road trip, otherwise they use public transport. He cited the benefits of backpackers bringing $1.1 billion to NSW in 2009, each spends $2,500 on average during their stay & they each create 6.3 jobs for the community.

The General Manager of the company spoke next & said they had been negotiating with local police & set up a customer complaint monitoring system & 6 neighbourhood meetings.  He said complaints had decreased of late.  Said of the 41 guests in the past 2 months, only 2 had cars.

Figs cascade over the path on a foreshore walk in Birchgrove

A town planner spoke next & tabled a letter from their lawyer.  He indicated they were prepared to take this DA to the Land & Environment Court.  He said the key issue was the security guard who will walk the streets & there will be a restriction of the number of ‘allowed’ parties.

3 residents addressed the Councillors.  Their speeches cited the following: broken glass, litter, vandalism & tampering with private property on a daily basis, female residents being accosted, cars driving on the wrong side of the road, groups of backpackers on the street screaming & fighting for hours, beer bottles lined up under residents’ cars, damaged public phone booth, vomit in the booth, a roller door being pulled off the garage & dumped with multiple other objects on top of a car, opening gates & letting pets out, climbing on residents roofs, damaging residents cars & so on.  Naturally they had concern for their children being out on the footpath.

The residents said these days the police do come less often because the residents don’t call them often as they realise the police have finite resources.  Therefore the situation hasn’t really improved even though it appears so on paper.  They also said the building is not vacant as travellers are already living there.

Although the building is in an area zoned light industrial, residential houses abut the site.  If this DA goes ahead, there will be 3 backpacker hostels which put the residents effectively inside a triangle of backpackers.

A massive Eucalypt on private property at Ballast Point Birchgrove

Clr Phillips said that while he appreciated the letter from the lawyer, Council must consider the public interest & this DA is a strong issue of concern for the public.  He said the fact there is a need for a security guard says a lot.  He said Backpackers come & go & he doubted they would sit down & read the Plan of Management.  He said he thought the development was too big, saying the police have serious concerns about the development & with another backpackers, Newington Mews, which already has problems.  He said, If Council approved this DA, they would be causing a lot more problems for the community & that an 80 bed hostel is not appropriate for the area & not in the public interest.

Clr Thanos said the current LEP allows this kind of use & he wanted the courts to be aware that Marrickville Council sees this area as inappropriate for backpacker establishments & that Council’s LEP is going to change soon.  He put up an amendment that Council’s LEP should be altered to prevent this from happening.

Clr O’Sullivan supported this amendment saying Council also had issues of concentration of sex industry facilities & should consider control of concentrations of backpacker establishments as well.  She said introducing another 80 backpackers who are often inebriated would have an effect on women, kids & older people.  She also said it’s a new issue in the area & we need to have a clear view on these.

Clrs Olive & Macri spoke about the fact that, even though the hostel is in light industrial, it still abuts residential areas.

Clr Hanna said he did not like establishments like this in the area & encouraged the residents to contact Council’s monitoring services in the event of further disturbances.

a row of young Figs

The DA was unanimously voted against.

200 Enmore Road – A restaurant wanted to extend operating hours to 3am. They are a non-alcohol establishment.  Approved.

Wilford Lane – The recommendation was for Council to negotiate a payment of $54,000 to the developer to widen this section of the laneway.  Recent meetings between Council & residents agreed that the widened section of Wilford Lane would become green space.  Over time, Council will buy back 3 metres along the laneway to widen the laneway from 3 metres to 6.  Passed unanimously.

Meeting finished.  A quick Council meeting followed which agreed that Marrickville Council hold a reception at Petersham Town Hall for the Women Walking for Peace event.  The reception will be organised by Clr Byrne.  Passed unanimously.  The women are walking from Brisbane through Sydney to Canberra from 13 March – 25 May 2010. To see the itinerary – http://footprints.footprintsforpeace.net/australia_walk/upload/files/Itinerary_Updated.pdf

Driving down Renwick Street Marrickville South yesterday afternoon I saw to my horror a pile of greenery lying at the base & along the gutter underneath the Hills Figs near the corner of Carrington Road.  These trees have been mutilated AGAIN!  I last posted about this group of trees on 5th January 2010 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/5th-january-2010-saved-by-the-land-environment-court-maimed-by-trucks/

I have watched these trees since 1996.  These magnificent Hills Figs stood sentinel to the old PYE factory. For some years an electrical company used a part of the site & the rest was a busy timber yard and then an also busy scaffolding supplier. Large trucks used to go in & out the property 6 days a week & nothing happened to the Fig trees except people used to treat them as a dumping ground for all sorts of household rubbish & for the sake of neatness, they were compelled to put this at the base of their trunks.

Then the property was sold & a DA was lodged with Marrickville Council around 2007.  My awareness of these Fig trees heightened because part of the DA was to remove a perfectly healthy magnificent Hills Fig on the Warren Road side of the development & a couple of others on Carrington Rd & Renwick Street for driveways & public visibility of the complex itself.  The community fought this DA for a year ending up in the Land & Environment Court.  The outcome concerning the trees was that only one tree would be removed to construct a driveway at a different place at the front of the development. The community’s fight managed to keep the loss down to one tree.

Over the past 2-3 years, I have watched all sorts of massive damage occur to these trees.  No one knows who is doing it, though we surmise it is done by parking trucks because the damage is done high up in the branches on the road side of the tree.

Renwick Street Marrickville South showing the actual path drivers take & how much room & clearance there is regarding the row of Hills Fig trees

The Fig trees on Carrington Road are literally cleaved out after trucks parking there tore off branches. It’s unlikely that passing trucks did the damage as Marrickville Council has pruned these trees to ensure they are not an obstacle to traffic.  Both Carrington Road & Renwick Street are wide enough for trucks to pass easily & safely.  However, Council seems to not be able to do anything about drivers who decide to park close to the kerb & ram their way through branches.  The only solution is to prohibit trucks parking there.

Do the drivers come in so fast they are unable to brake?  Or do they find the branches a pest & deliberately ram into them?

These trees are very much loved by the community.  They are a landmark in the area &, as there are not many large street trees in this area, we would like to keep them for as long as possible.

I have asked people how they feel about these trees & the response is always one of fervent approval immediately followed by concern that something is going to happen to them.  Recently people have approached me to talk about the state of the Hills Figs on Carrington Road.  In conversations there is an air of pessimism about these trees.

The Tree Strategies Issues Paper which was before Council earlier this year recommended that 59% of the trees in Marrickville LGA be removed.  Council were recommending targeting the mature trees which were labelled ‘senescent,’ meaning ‘approaching an advanced age.’  This block of Hills Figs are senescent.  I would guess they are around 80 years old.

Am I alone in thinking that older, mature trees look fabulous in the main?  It is their size & height that I find particularly attractive & trees need years to grow large.  I don’t understand the need to chop trees down when they are mature, though it has been explained to me that urban trees find it difficult to grow to their full life span because of the difficulties inherent in an urban environment – soil compaction, injury, lack of water, lack of nutrients, disease.  Why can’t Council take special care of our older special trees when they are senescent?  Why is the answer to chop them?  I need to say here that Marrickville Council has not suggested removing these particular trees.

Considering all the adversity these trees are suffering because of human activity, I fear that Council will look at these trees in a year or two & say, “Too damaged.  They need to be removed.”  Chop!  There goes another link to the area’s history & another major loss of beauty that we sorely need.  Not to mention the CO2 sequestration they achieve.

It would be preferable if Council could do something to prevent trucks parking there because the drivers can’t be trusted to not damage the trees.  I know that City of Sydney Council would not tolerate such vandalism done to their trees.  They consider trees the city’s assets & I think they exercise more power over roads because of being the city of Sydney.

I also believe that if Marrickville Council did have a Significant Tree Register, this would go some way in helping implement strategies to protect these trees from drivers.

This week’s damage destroyed yet another large branch.  The photos below tell the remainder of the story.

The yellow arrows indicate damage spots to two of the trees

Large branch sheared off Fig tree

There is a 3 sided block surrounded by large mature Hills Figs in Marrickville South.  One Fig trees is situated on Warren Road, the others along Renwick Street & Carrington Road.  I think there are around 13 Fig trees in total.  These trees would be eligible to be included in a Significant Tree Register, if we had one.  They are a landmark in the area.  Combined with the row of Palms probably planted in the same era (around 80-90 years ago) when the factories along Carrington Road were built, these trees make Carrington Road look far nicer than it would without them.

Two industries used the land for decades, cohabiting comfortably with the trees with large trucks driving in & out.  Unfortunately over the last 15 years the trees have suffered much trauma from severe pruning for the sake of electricity wires. Energy Australia deny pruning these trees & say they were pruned for a loading zone. However, there is a great big long hole through the canopy where the wires travel. (see Energy Australia letters)

Size 9 feet to show dimensions

A DA for the block of land was taken to the Land & Environment Court back in 2008 for a number of reasons, one of which was the proposed removal of 2 of these Fig trees to make way for entrance driveways.  On this issue, Marrickville Council & the community were successful in having the application refused.

Thanks to the Court ruling, these beautiful trees got to live on, with the next threat to their existence being the actual development of the site, which may or may not affect their root system.

This is major damage to this Fig tree

Two months ago, a truck crashed into one of the trees leaving multiple deep gashes in its trunk & causing the loss of one major branch.  A month ago a truck tore off half a tree.  Council had to cut what remained back to the trunk leaving a Fig tree with one branch.  How long before they say this tree is unstable, looks ugly & has to be removed?

Yesterday, I drove by & saw another major branch of one of these trees lying in the gutter.  I can safely assume a truck it ripped off because the area of damage is high off the road.  Council has cut this branch into 3 to make it easier to take away.  I assume they will also have to do work on the tree where the branch was sheared off.

I feel aghast at what is happening to these trees.  There are many trucks that use these streets & their presence is causing a lot of damage. I am sure this is a common story in other areas of Marrickville LGA.

You can see trucks have repeatedly gashed this branch

It is nothing less than vandalism & truck drivers should be required to take more care of street trees & other infrastructure if they are to use these streets.

I blame also the businesses that require the drivers to use extremely large trucks to cut down on the amount of deliveries as a way of increasing profit margin.  While they make money, they are destroying the area.

This was a thriving Fig tree not too long ago. How can this be okay?

If a truck has to drive over a footpath to take a corner, it is too big to be using these narrow streets.  If the driver sees a tree canopy overhead, they can take measures to ensure they do not take branches with them. Council certainly makes sure that the branches of our street trees are high off the ground.  I suspect it wasn’t a passing truck which caused this latest damage.  Many trucks use this area to park overnight.  Seems trying to park a high truck near the kerb brought the vehicle within reach of the canopy and brought the branch down.

It also needs to be said that Carrington Road is a very wide road, certainly big enough for trucks to use & the tree canopy does not restrict passage.

Other news – on 10th December 09 I wrote about a Perth man who was sitting in a street tree to prevent its removal. (see post This is Commitment)  Well, he is still there.

His name is Richard Pennicuik & he lives in the Perth suburb of Thornlie.  He is protesting the proposed removal of 2 mature native street trees outside his property by the City of Gosnell Council.  Apparently, the Council has chopped down 20 other mature street trees in his street & plans to remove the remaining trees. Richard Pennicuik is refusing to come down from the tree until Council reverse their decision to remove these street trees.

Gosnell Council wrote to Mr Pennicuik saying they would not remove the trees for 3 months if he would come down from the tree & discuss the issue with them.  They have also said they will plant native tree species instead of their original intention to plant exotics.  He says this is insufficient & will not be coming down.  He believes the Council will remove the trees if he does.

Imagine spending 4 weeks up a tree & having so much commitment & love for trees to be willing to stay as long as necessary to save these trees.  Many of the comments on the net have been very derogatory towards Mr Pennicuik, but most of these comments have come from people who also chose to write less than positive comments about trees.  I respect Mr Pennicuik & wish him success.  He believes that the earth needs all its mature trees because of global warming & says he is also protesting for his children’s future.

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