Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fate of Laman Street figs draws near

From The Herald...


KEEPING or cutting Laman Street's trees will be a matter of cost, but at what price is open to interpretation.

It is a question Newcastle City Council must ponder following advice that the figs are failing and should go.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that 10 options were placed on the drawing board in a briefing to councillors on Tuesday night.

Capital costs ranged from $8000 to $4.9 million for everything from keeping to cutting all 14 figs.

Recurrent costs would be between $1000 and $60,000.

Life expectancy of the present trees was five to 15 years, while new trees might last more than 90 years, community planning co-ordinator Ian Rhodes said.

Cr Sharon Claydon suggested an economic analysis of the trees be considered.

A council spokeswoman said an arboriculture assessment known as the Thyer method put the value of all 14 figs at $68,586.

Cr Michael Osborne said the value was more than dollars.

Environmental factors such as stormwater benefits and habitat for endangered species should be taken into account.

The trees are already a costly consideration.

The art gallery and library report a 35 per cent decrease in visitor numbers since street access was limited because the trees posed a public safety risk.

The gallery had a $9000 decrease in income compared with the same time last year.

The council also spent $70,000 on a two-day community workshop, from which consultants developed a plan for revamping Laman Street and nearby Civic Park.

It envisaged underground building extensions, a two-storey car park, and opening former rail corridors for bikes and pedestrians.

Councillors will consider the plan and tree options next month.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Rhiannon launches Newcastle Greens candidate, Hunter to be at heart of 100% renewables shift

Newcastle Greens
26 July 2010

At Newcastle foreshore today, Greens NSW Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon launched Michael Osborne as the Greens candidate for Newcastle and announced that the Hunter will be the heart of the Greens NSW push to shift from coal dependence to 100% renewable energy.

Greens candidate for Newcastle Michael Osborne said: “I am excited about diving into the Greens campaign in the Federal seat of Newcastle.

“Gillard’s climate change plan is nothing more than a talk-fest that will keep NSW and the Hunter locked into coal dependence. It is a plan to stall action for two years.

“Federal Labor has failed the people of Newcastle on climate change – they have stuck their head in the sand and defended the coal industry rather than providing the leadership needed to force a shift to 100% renewable energy.

The massive proposed Mt Piper and Bayswater coal-fired power plants, which will
together potentially add 4,000 MW of coal-fired power, would still go ahead under Labor’s do-nothing plan announced last week by the Gillard government.

“The Greens’ detailed plan to shift Australia away from dirty coal to 100% renewable energy powerhouse draws on our tremendous resources of sun, wind, wave and earth. For the Hunter this means a major boost to jobs growth and the local economy.

“Federal Labor has taken its eye off the ball and the development of renewable energy is uncoordinated and directionless. The Greens’ Safe Climate (Renewable Energy Infrastructure) Bill will give Infrastructure Australia new planning tasks to map renewable energy resource area and to create renewable energy development zones with streamlined approval processes,”said Mr Osborne.

Greens Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon said: “Michael is a passionate and knowledgeable candidate, with a long-term commitment to the people of Newcastle. He has a proven track record as a councillor on Newcastle City Council for 6 years.

“I am looking forward to working with Michael on the Greens campaign to shift away from coal-dependence to 100% renewable energy. The Hunter will be the heart of this work.

“The Hunter has six coal fired power stations and has experienced a six fold increase in open cut coal mining over three decades. A recent government report confirmed that the area experiences higher rates of asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“Shifting to renewable energy would mean a healthy local environment, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and more jobs in the Hunter. Research by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity at University of Newcastle identified a net gain of between 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs if the Hunter’s coal-fired power stations were phased out and local energy needs were met by renewable energy,” Ms Rhiannon said.