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Until recently this Hill’s Fig had a beautiful full canopy. Around a third of the canopy has been removed turning it into a v-shaped tree to install Aerial Bundled Cable.

I love Aerial Bundled Cable & wish it were the norm since we cannot have electricity cables buried underground.  For pruning street trees Ausgrid says, – In residential areas the vegetation safety clearance is typically 1.5 metres around bare, low voltage overhead wires & two metres around power poles. However, the safety clearance depends on the voltage of the overhead wire – the higher the voltage the larger the clearance.”

They say the following about Aerial Bundled Cable –  Councils are offered the option of installing Aerial Bundled Cable (ABC) which wraps the four Iow voltage overhead wires, strung between poles along suburban streets, into one single insulated cable.  The safety clearances required for ABC are less than for uninsulated wire. Trees that have already been trimmed for uninsulated wire clearances will take some time to regrow to the ABC safety clearances. ABC also reduces the likelihood of a power interruption, which can occur when uninsulated lines touch and then short-circuit. In some instances, this can cause live wires to fall to the ground.”

Marrickville Council have done the community a big & costly favour paying Ausgrid to install Aerial Bundled Cable for a Hill’s Fig located near the corner of Warren & Carrington Roads Marrickville South.  This is one of 14 Hill’s Fig trees that have graced this area between & including Warren Road, Carrington Road & Renwick Street for decades.  They are landmark trees & are very much loved.

In my opinion the Fig tree in Warren Road has always looked the best of all these Fig trees – until recently that is.  To install Aerial Bundled Cable through this particular Fig tree Ausgrid has removed around a third of the canopy.  One can only assume they did this to ensure that they don’t need to come back for a while.

How can installing Aerial Bundled Cable require more of the canopy to be removed than the ordinary pruning they do for powerlines?   I thought Aerial Bundled Cable was designed to actually save the tree’s canopy.

In this case it appears that 3 large branches have been removed making the tree into a v-shape.  It was upsetting to see & as is the case with pruning to this degree, the tree will never look the same again.  Yet another tree asset has been degraded.

I will look for, then post other examples around Sydney where Aerial Bundled Cable has been used on trees of equivalent size to show that pruning in this case was extreme.

I do not understand the extent of pruning to this tree to install the Aerial Bundled Cable, which is meant to protect the canopy of special trees.

This was the Council Meeting.  All Councillors present. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Smoke Free Outdoor environments in Marrickville – This was for the Marrickville LGA & included no smoking in all outdoor areas, dining, public footpaths, sports grounds & fields, at a Council owned buildings, within 10 metres of a Council owned building or a children’s playground, including parks or a bus stop or at any Council outdoor event/function. Recommended to be released for community consultation until 28th February 2011.

A resident & representative of the NSW Cancer Council spoke about the health statistics of second-hand smoke.  Clr Phillips supported the motion saying the more Council discourages smoking, the more people will stop smoking.  Clr Thanos was against the motion saying he supported the right of people to choose. He thought “a blanket ban was dumb & stopping people smoking in a park was ludicrous.” He said smokers have rights reminding that it is legal to smoke. He said there was no one to police this.  Clr Wright supported the motion saying smokers are impacting on the health of others & the policy will make people change.

Clr Hanna said that despite the report saying so, no one had contacted the Marrickville Chamber of Commerce or the restaurants listed. He said there should be freedom for everyone.  Clr Olive said he had concerns about ability to police  & no smoking in outdoor areas is a problem.

Clr Tsardoulias supported the motion saying he has seen it work in Singapore. Clr Macri thought 50% introduction was better & that it would alienate café owners.  Clr Iskandar spoke about the cost of smoking on the health system. He also said every smoker throws their butts that land in the Cooks River. Mayor Byrne thought education was better than an impost. Carried.  Against Clr Thanos, Hanna, Macri & Olive.

Notice of motion to remove a street tree outside 104 Windsor Road Dulwich Hill – Council staff assessed the damage & the tree & said it was unlikely

Showing the crack opposite the street tree

that the tree caused the damage to the fence at the front of the property. Council refused the application to remove the tree. Behind the 500 mm high brick fence the yard is a 350mm high raised garden bed with a 2 metre Callistemon & low plants.

The owner spoke saying that the street tree had caused a crack to his brick fence. He wanted the tree removed & replaced with a “less invasive version.”  Clr Thanos said Council should remove the tree because of the distress it is causing the resident. He said the tree will cause more damage & that the staff report was not helpful. Clr Olive did not support the motion saying that while the distress of the resident is important, the report said there was minor cracking. He said the crack can be re-pointed & doesn’t justify removing a tree valued at $1,500.

The closest street tree is the one that was requested to be removed. The dark patch in the pavement shows where Council dug up the footpath to examine the roots

Clr Tsardoulias said that the photos of the footpath tell him that the tree is affecting the fence & that street trees are affecting the whole estate & endangering people’s property. He supported the motion.

Clr Peters said she sympathized with the resident, but noted that the there is extensive cracking all down the street. She spoke about movement with clay soils. She did not support the motion. Mayor Byrne said it was wrong to let street trees ruin people’s homes. She said staff would have seen the roots & that the dirt behind the wall makes it lean out & the crack is pressure from below cracking up. She said the Councillors should support the removal of this tree & replace with an appropriate tree.  Clr Hanna said 47 trees were removed for the Enmore pool, but we can’t remove a street tree & “Trees are a written asset, not a real asset.”

First vote was on Clr Thanos’ motion to remove the tree. In favour: Clrs Thanos, Hanna, Macri, Byrne & Tsardoulias. Against: Clrs O’Sullivan, Wright, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Iskandar & Kontellis. Motion failed. Then the vote was on the staff recommendation to retain the tree. All Councillors voted for this except for Clrs Macri, Hanna, Thanos & Tsardoulias.


Gloriously beautiful trees which are a huge asset to Newcastle

Yesterday the Newcastle Herald ran an article that shocked me.  A couple of months ago I wrote about the Laman Street Fig trees that are at serious risk of being removed. Newcastle Council says the trees are “potentially unstable.”  The community says they are not &  that none of these trees dropped a branch or fell during the Pasha Bulker storm that caused massive damage across Newcastle.

The June 2007 storm (the Pasha Bulker storm) was one of the most significant meteorological events in Australia’s history. It was the 4th largest general insurance loss (inflation adjusted) since systematic insurance records were started in 1968. The storm consisted of three distinct impacts (1) flash flooding in the urban area of Newcastle (and as far south as the Central Coast, impacting 800,000 people) on the night of 8 June (about 1 in 100 year return period) (2) more general flooding on the Hunter River 3 days later (about 1 in 40 return period, impacting about 100,000 people) and (3) high winds and wave heights on the night of 8 June (the worst in the Newcastle-Sydney region since the “Sygna” storm in 1974. ~ The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility – So you would think if healthy trees were going to fall, they would do so during that storm.

Having been to see the trees myself I was impressed at their beauty & couldn’t understand why they were considered dangerous. The road is not damaged, nor is the footpath. A wedding party certainly wasn’t afraid as they were standing under the trees for at least an hour having photos taken.  See –

Newcastle Mayor Clr Tate in an article in the Newcastle Herald yesterday suggested that the Laman Street Figs be chopped down & the stumps of these magnificent Figs be left in place & sculpted into famous Newcastle artists.  He cites the Legerwood Memorial trees in Tasmania as his inspiration saying they are a good tourist attraction.

In 1918 at railway reserve at Ringarooma Road, now known as Legerwood, 2 Douglas Fir, 2
 Giant Sequoia, 3
 Deodar & a Weymouth Pine were planted to honour WW1 fallen soldiers. In 2001 the trees were deemed unsafe, but not removed due to community concern.  In 2004 the Legerwood Hall & Reserves Committee employed a local chainsaw carver to sculpt images of the fallen soldiers & war scenes using the trunks of the trees that were left in place.   I would seriously recommend looking at these sculptures –

For the life of me I cannot see how chopping down these magnificent trees to leave carved stumps is seen as a viable option.  Admitted I am biased as I think Newcastle Council should do everything in its power to keep these trees. Not only are these trees an icon, but they are an extremely beautiful asset & would be worth at least $100,000 each. 14 trees = $1,400,000.

As Council has blocked the street to through traffic, I would suggest a good option is to remove Laman Street totally.  It’s a very short street & access to the Art Gallery can be via Civic Park or from the side, just as the Art Gallery of NSW can be entered via the Domain. Even disabled parking at the sides would be as close as it is for the Art Gallery of NSW.  Remove all the bitumen & concrete, put in paths to the Art Gallery, add some seating, plant & mulch.

If the trees scare you because of their height, borrow the Arborist from Sydney’s Botanical Gardens to do a proper prune & keep this beautiful asset for future generations.  The trees are healthy even to their root system.

Please don’t chop down living treasures to grind chain-saw sculptures of dead artists.  It’s too sad an idea to even contemplate.  Leave Tasmania to be the only ones with tree stump sculptures. Have tourists come to see the fabulous Fig trees of Newcastle & have afternoon tea outside the Newcastle Art Gallery under the shade of the Laman Street Figs. Be known as the Mayor that saved the Laman Street Figs, not the Mayor who …. Oh, it’s just too awful to contemplate.

To read the Newcastle Herald Article –;jsessionid=D9773D80FFC9138C23A832022C190CB6?page=1&sy=nstore&kw=theherald&pb=all_ffx&dt=selectRange&dr=1month&so=relevance&sf=text&sf=headline&rc=150&rm=200&sp=nrm&clsPage=1&docID=NCH1007166ID1352G9NF

You can read the follow-up post  written on 1st September 2010 about the Independent Arborist Report by clicking here

Last Friday, I was called to Excelsior Parade Marrickville, home of ‘The Pride of Excelsior.’ (see Shame Page) “Energy Australia are pruning the trees.”  I arrived just as they were finishing.  Whether due to recent bad publicity plaguing the energy companies or just a good crew of contractors, they had done a good job.

Energy Australia removed only what was necessary

I always give credit where when it’s due. This is one such occasion.  I have been worried about these trees knowing that Energy Australia were due.  This time there were only a few branches on the road & they had taken care not to over prune.

Interestingly, a small crowd had gathered to assess the work, indicating that others hold these trees in high esteem as well.

The trees are Brush Box, large & old, just the type that Council have recommended to be chopped down & replaced in their Tree Strategies Issues Paper (see last post).  No one knows when these trees were planted, but the housing was built in 1915.  Older residents said the trees went in around that time.  They form a canopy over the street & support a myriad of wildlife.  Everyone who comes to this street mentions the beauty of these trees.  Even the real estate agents mention them in their advertising when a house is up for sale & I am sure the house prices reflect their presence.

A Fire-Wheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus, Wheel of Fire, White Beefwood, White Oak for those of you who like botanical names) had to be topped for the cables.  This native species of tree can grow to 40m, but more commonly to 15m in cultivation.  Question is, why was this tree planted under electricity wires around 5 years ago? It will continue to grow & by the time Energy Australia return, the trunk will have grown taller.  Routine pruning will then turn this tree into a flat umbrella & Council will probably chop it down.  In Los Angles, Fire-Wheels are classified as heritage trees & they are described as a ‘fragile tree.’ So, well done Energy Australia.  Thank you for leaving the trees looking beautiful.  I am sure the community will be happy you did.

Integral Energy butchered these street trees in Valentine Ave Blacktown

Not so for the residents of Valentine Avenue Blacktown & Browning Crescent Lalor Park, who complained about the pruning practices of Integral Energy contractors recently.  (see my posts More butchering of street trees & Bakers dozen or it dozen matter).  Curious to see just how bad the damage was & to compare with what has happened in Marrickville LGA, we took a trip there last weekend to see the trees. What a shocker!  They were butchered & the residents were entitled to complain.

Compare the two trees

The visit was worthwhile on a number of fronts.  I now know that Blacktown Council took action to prevent savage over-pruning, whereas in cases of severe over pruning in Marrickville LGA no action seems to have been taken.  Marrickville Council also can intervene in the future, rather than sit back & allow our assets to be destroyed.

Tree-lined M4 which must assist local wildlife

I haven’t been on the M4 for a while.  After leaving the eyesore of Parramatta Road, which seriously needs the intervention of multiple councils, we reached the expressway.  This has become a green corridor as the trees planted for the Olympics have grown & now present a tall, lush, green screen.  It is quite an achievement to make a highway look nice, but they have done it.

I also discovered that Blacktown, Seven Hills & Lalor Park are as green as Eastwood.  There are tall trees everywhere, many of them Eucalypts & it is impossible to count the trees on the horizon. I think Blacktown Council has done well regarding street trees. I found other articles about the recent pruning of street trees & in other locations the Blacktown area.  From the Blacktown Sun – & another from the Blacktown Advocate – & from the Cumberland Courier –

During my research I was stunned to read that Blacktown City Council gives away 70,000 trees every year free to residents as part of the Visionary Greening Of Blacktown Program.  It’s working.  Then I came across “more than 7,000 native trees have been planted in Fairfield as part of Blacktown City Council Council’s Regenesis Project.” (Aug & Sept 09) A look at Blacktown Council’s web-site revealed more.  Over 500 residents & businesses people helped plant 23,370 native trees, shrubs & grasses over 8 month period ending June 09.

The Sikh temple & a street in the new housing estate

Even the Sikh Centre, a massive temple, has been given an Environment Grant ($4,200) to rejuvenate the local streetscape, as this is a new housing development with building still under way.

Blacktown City Council has done a Tree Inventory & they also have a Significant Tree Register.  Our Council has  neither & at present have no intention to do so.

I’m going to stop now because I sound like I have set up the Blacktown City Council Fan Club. for your free t-shirt! (NOTE: no such web-site) This research started because I wanted to know why our Council ignores what happens to our street trees & Blacktown Council doesn’t.  Now I can see why.  It’s also good to know what other Council’s are doing about street trees & over-all greening of their municipality so we know what is a reasonable expectation.

Back to the Brush Box trees on Excelsior Parade.  These trees are also at risk of being damaged by passing trucks.  Residents in the area are campaigning on a number of issues & one of their concerns is that long semi-trailers on Excelsior Parade will destroy the trees.  Considering the damage heavy vehicles have caused to trees in the nearby Carrington Road (see post – I think their concerns are justified. To view their concerns go to the Council Gripe web-site at –

Top right shows the overhead cables cut across the corner-the trees here were scooped out even though they were a fair distance from the cables



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