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I’ve been noticing that many of our street trees under powerlines have started to have dead parts in the canopy.

Here is another example.

Two dead street trees in Marrickville – notable because they are beside each other.   They died quickly.  

No street trees is a feature of New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill. The new development in view did not include street trees, though they did include concrete.

New concrete – no street trees. Is this the best this will look?

This new development in New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill at least put in street trees. I find the power pole in the middle of the footpath odd.

We cycled up New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill last week & were surprised at the large developments happening there.  Our area is changing fast.

One of the high-rise blocks has four Brushbox trees planted out front, though one is already dead.   Street trees of this kind will enhance the streetscape and keep the footpath area cool so I am glad they were planted.

The other high-rise building has no street trees, just a long expanse of brand new concrete.

If this is going to be the future look for New Canterbury Road, then I think it is a missed opportunity.  Inner West Council needs to insist that developers include a decent number of street trees as part of the development & dare I say, verge gardens.  There certainly is room enough for them.

When NSW Transport built the light rail stations, they did not stop at station infrastructure.  They also planted trees & other plants extensively both inside & around the light rail stations & made these places quite attractive.  It is this that I would like to see developers do when they build a new building for the area – to look at the streetscape surrounding & especially in front of their development.  What they don’t spend in concrete, they can spend on street trees & plants.   I learnt from listening to the architect for The Revolution in Marrickville that if something “green” is not mandatory, then they don’t bother to include it in the development.

More & more around Sydney I am noticing busy roads including verge gardens & it all works well.  With climate change starting to really make its impact & with three heatwaves already this year, development needs to change into something that assists the community.  Concrete does not cut it anymore.  We know too much about how great expanses of concrete is bad for us & exacerbates heat.

Brilliant awning in Waterloo. Just a small change allows the community to have tall street trees. Such a sensible idea.

I also think Council should make it mandatory to have street side building awnings to be of the kind that has cutouts to allow the canopy of a street tree to grow & gain height as is the norm all along the Princes Highway in North Sydney.  They have tall Brushbox trees growing along their business/shopping strip & all the trees have space for their canopy to grow.  It looks good & not only that, it is sensible.  I’ve also seen this in Waterloo.   Why can we not have this in our area?

 

Further down closer to Dulwich Hill shops – New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill is barren in many places.

To end on a positive note, I very much like the new verge gardens on both sides, corner of Myra Street & New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill. Council narrowed the road to add gardens and slow down traffic.  They have planted Callistemon ‘Little John,’ which is a fabulous plant.  It looks terrific.  

The crack is significant.

The crack is significant.  

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Narrow-leafed red ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) opposite 6 Tramway Avenue Tempe.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees.  The tree to be removed is the one with the sign.  I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees. The tree to be removed is the one with the sign. I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has significant crack in the main trunk causing it to be structurally unsound.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Red Iron Bark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) as part of the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017. 

Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week.   Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week. Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

More Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week.  Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

More Ausgrid pruning of street trees in Fotheringham Street Enmore last week. Photo by Catherine Bakker‎ and used with thanks.

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.

The street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville were pruned last week.

The street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville were pruned by Ausgrid last week.  This is not “trimming.”

More examples of street tree pruning by Ausgrid in street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville

More examples of street tree pruning by Ausgrid in street trees in Renwick Street Marrickville.  

What a sad sight this is.

What a sad sight this is.

Vale to the massive street tree on the corner of Livingstone Road & Pile Street Marrickville.  This tree has blessed us with its presence for more many decades & was a feature when I first visited Marrickville in my twenties.   I call it significant because of its size & large canopy that spread over the road.  We don’t have many street trees like this one.

Who knows what happened, but its death was quick.  Hopefully Council will replace it with another tall-growing native tree since one has managed at this site for so long.

a closer look

a closer look

This is a big tree - one of hundreds of big trees that will be removed to widen Campbell Street & Euston Road for the WestConnex Motorway

This is a very big tree – one of hundreds of big trees that will be removed to widen Campbell Street & Euston Road for the WestConnex Motorway

The trees in Euston Road are big, much bigger than the street trees we are used to seeing in the old Marrickville municipality

The trees in Euston Road are big, much bigger than the street trees we are used to seeing in what until recently, was Marrickville municipality.  Stand here and all you can here is birdsong, especially Fig birds.

Every tree you see is to be removed. Just past the grass is the lower pond filled with water birds. It appears that the land taken by WestConnex will come very close to this pond.

Every tree you see is to be removed. Just past the grass is the lower pond filled with water birds. It appears that the land taken by WestConnex will come very close to this pond.

We have just returned from the ‘Save Sydney Park Festival’ organised by the WestConnex Action Group & Reclaim the Streets.   We also visited the Camp of residents who have stayed in the park for the past 13 days.   It has not been without drama though.  At 3am on 20th September, police evicted the camp & the WestConnex Authority came & fenced off the campsite.  The Camp moved further up the park & re-pitched their tents.  Today a lone security guard sat in the fenced off area protecting the trees from the community for the WestConnex Authority.  Taxpayers’ dollars at work. It’s the community which wants to save the trees.

The Camp of the WestConnex Action Group & supporters

The Camp of the WestConnex Action Group & supporters

The WestConnex Authority is preparing to chop down hundreds of trees along Campbell Street & Euston Road St Peters.  If this wasn’t bad enough, they also intend to encroach 12-metres into Sydney Park itself & remove many mature trees, shrubs & gardens.

The WestConnex Action Group ( http://www.westconnexactiongroup.org.au ) says that, “The State Government is cutting down more than 350 trees & taking 14,000 square metres of Sydney Park to build their dirty toll road.”

The WestConnex Action Group has spent a significant number of people hours tying blue fabric around each tree to be removed.  There is blue everywhere you look.  Hundreds of decades old trees will be felled.  Even worse is the blue fabric around massive trees inside Sydney Park.  It is also reasonable to think that any tree within 10-metres of the work zone would also be at risk of dying if their roots extend into the work zone, so perhaps more precious trees will be casualties of this motorway.

Sydney Park may seem like a big park, but we don;t have much green space in the area & to lose any is terrible. Sydney Park is only across the road from the boundary of the old Marrickville Municipality.  The old Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia.  Therefore, Sydney Park is used a lot by this community, plus the community of the City of Sydney municipality & the numerous visitors who travel significant distance to spend time in the park.  No wonder. It is a beautiful park that just keeps on improving every year.

So for the WestConnex Authority to take a whopping 14,000 square metres of Sydney Park in an area with very little green space is a huge loss.

Campbell Street & Euston Road St Peters will be widened into 6 lanes taking traffic from the St Peters Interchange (colloquially known as the Spaghetti Junction) to Alexandria, Mascot & Newtown then into surrounding roads originally built for horses with carts.  The traffic bottle necks are going to be very frustrating to drivers & for the local community who are going to be hit with far more traffic than they have ever experienced, plus associated air pollution & health issues from the pollution.

The St Peters Interchange itself is massive & one wonders why it needs to be so large.  Looking at the plans it looks to be three-quarters the size of Sydney Park.

An article published three days ago in the Telegraph, (which I am unable to access again to give you the link) said that 85,000 square metres of new parkland will be created under & around the St Peters Interchange.  The new parkland will come with two ventilation stacks.   The first public space is due to be opened in 2019 & the second in 2023.

Now I don’t know about you, but we will be very unlikely to choose to spend our time outdoors under a freeway spaghetti junction with particulate matter dropping down on us from the vehicles traveling above & pollution from the two ventilation stacks.   It won’t matter how green the grass is.

It seems that the WestConnex Authority has carte blanche to seize public green space for this motorway.  Just a couple of weeks ago they levelled 1.4 hectares of critically endangered REMNANT Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark forest in Wolli Creek for a TEMPORARY car park.  Unbelievable!   See – http://bit.ly/2cpNw1i   This action is a big fat “we just don’t care about the environment” by the WestConnex Authority, aka the NSW government.

The WestConnex Authority tried it on for historic Ashfield Park wanting to destroy heritage trees & take away community green space, again for a car park.  See – http://bit.ly/2dkCivB   Thankfully the community won & Ashfield Park was saved.  Hopefully Sydney Park can also be saved.

My question to the NSW Government is – why do you choose to rob the Inner West community of green space?  Why not purchase the industrial buildings across the road from Sydney Park to provide the space needed to widen the road?  They certainly did not hesitate to force people out of their homes, so why not the same equity for industrial properties?   Or why not build better public transport?

We looked around, spoke to numerous people & heard the anger, dismay & the concern for the park, the trees & the wildlife.  Then we cycled around for a good look at what is proposed to be lost to road.  Of concern is the wildlife – the Bell frogs, the Tawny frogmouths & number other birds & all the other creatures that live in the trees to be removed.  The area subsumed comes mighty close to the bottom pond, which is also of concern.  Hopefully my photos will show what is to be lost more effectively than my words.

Everywhere I looked I saw big trees and blue ribbons indicating that these trees were to be chopped down.

Everywhere I looked I saw big trees and blue ribbons indicating that these trees were to be chopped down.  All the trees in the centre of the photograph are also in the area to be claimed by the WestConnex Authority.

The signs say it clearly

The signs say it clearly.   We cannot forget about the wildlife.

Some of the signs in the Camp.

Some of the signs in the Camp.

More signs

More signs

A sign in Campbell Street eloquently expresses community anger

A sign in Campbell Street eloquently expresses community anger

Local graffiti directing people to

Local graffiti is another visible sign of community anger.

The Town and Country Hotel at St Peter's -immortalised in the Duncan song by Slim Dusty is a casualty of WestConnex.

The Town and Country Hotel at St Peter’s -immortalised in the Duncan song by Slim Dusty & also a casualty of WestConnex.    PS.  In the Sun-Herald today, 2nd October 2016, there is an article titled, ‘Legal row leaves pub with no beer.’  In a nutshell, the Town and Country Hotel “fought off the threat from an extension to WestConnex….”  So I was wrong.  This iconic pub survives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the canopy is on the ground.

Most of the canopy is on the ground.

Great news for our street tree & our streetscapes.  Great news also for the wildlife who have barely any habitat as it is.

A statement from the Inner West Council said Mr Trevor Armstrong, CEO of Ausgrid power company, has made a commitment to the Council & therefore the whole community, “that contractors will reduce the cutback they are carrying out on local street trees following strong advocacy from Council and the community.” See – http://bit.ly/2dq10wk

After meeting with the Inner West Council, Ausgrid has said that “the maximum trimming for regrowth in the future will be 0.5 metres.”   Ausgrid’s current guidelines are for a “clearance of 1 metre around bare low voltage powerlines.”

The Inner West Council also resolved not to retain “TreeServe, the company responsible for the excessive pruning,” on their contractors list.  Let’s hope that the next contractors do a better job pruning our street trees.

I want to thank Ausgrid for taking this issue seriously & making the changes.   I also thank the Inner West Council for taking this issue to Ausgrid & pursuing the protection of our street trees.  Our urban forest is extremely important to most in the community & the look of butchered street trees does have a negative impact on us.

Two branches left after pruning by Ausgrid in 2014.

Two branches left after pruning by Ausgrid in 2014.

All that is left is three orange safety cones.

All that is left is three orange safety cones.

From my memory three Lombardy poplar trees were planted at the front of the Revolution apartments on Illawarra Road Marrickville around 2 – 2.5 years ago, shortly after the development was completed.  The trees were growing well.  This species is fast growing, so they were noticeable on the streetscape.

Sometime in the last week all three trees were removed & replaced by orange safety cones.  I have read reports that men with a truck removed the trees, so the trees were not removed by an opportunistic vandal.

Who knows why the trees were removed or even who removed them?  There is no Notification of Removal on Inner West Councils website.   Makes me sigh.

Augured street tree pruning in Ryde.  Photo by @stickymeringue with thanks.

Street tree pruning in Ryde by Ausgrid. Photo by @stickymeringue used with thanks.

 posted this photo on Twitter & kindly gave me permission to share here.  The gum tree is wrong for the location, but as she says, “Takes skill and artistic flair to achieve this look too.”    Trees are amazing.

Seriously?

Seriously?

One trunk and two branches

One trunk and two branches

We couldn't work out why this tree was pruned in the way it was.

We couldn’t work out why this tree was pruned in the way it has been.

Sydney is changing with all the high-rise development, but also because of the new style of street tree pruning by power company Ausgrid.    What was a rarity when Energy Australia managed power in the Sydney region, has now become a fairly common sight & frankly, it’s ugly.

The photos with this post are of Windsor Avenue Croydon Park.  I saw them while driving down Georges River Road & was interested enough to stop for a closer look on my return.  I imagine it was a shock to the residents when they came home because there is not much tree left.  Google maps show a much larger canopy when they last took images of the streets.

Ausgrid’s website says, Generally, in residential areas the clearance around bare low voltage powerlines is 1 metre.”

However, what I have noticed is that pruning happens much lower at 1-metre below the service cable.  I have been told to expect more service cables, so would that mean 1-metre lower than any new cable?

The following was taken from an August 2015 article in the Sydney Morning Herald where many local councils were upset about the degree of pruning by Ausgrid, including our own Marrickville Council –

“I’m not sure what’s driving the savagery that they’re using,” Cr Johns said.  I can only suspect that it’s to lower costs, that if you completely hatchet a tree then you don’t have to come back for two years instead of annually.”  http://bit.ly/1NkD6dV

My question is, why the need for annual pruning or every 18-months as happens in the Inner West when for decades, street trees were pruned every 7-8 years?   

The trees in my street reached as tall as the power poles for the two decades that we have lived here, but not since Ausgrid took over the company.  Now the power poles stick up bare metres above whatever foliage has been left on the trees & sadly, each year more of the canopy gets removed.

Even trees in front gardens have been removed after a severe pruning from the power company left them ugly & one-sided.

We were not a leafy street to start with, so this new pruning management has had a major impact on the visual amenity of the streetscape.  It is also hotter – much hotter because there is little shade left.

With more & more research showing how important trees, especially street trees, are to human health, this continued decimation is bound to impact the community.  This issue  must be addressed by local councils sooner rather than later.

Poor little tree.

Poor little tree….not much left.

One trunk and one branch

One trunk and one branch

Every branch topped.

Every branch topped.

Looks terrible.

Looks terrible.  Not only ugly, but these trees appear to be a few decades old.  They would have provided great amenity before they were reduced to this.  Much of the green visible comes from trees in front gardens.  

The winner.

The winner.

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