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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Petition to save Birdwood Park Fig Trees a success

A successful community petition with more than 1,100 signatures has forced the NSW Government to halt works that involved chopping down four heritage fig trees in Newcastle’s Birdwood Park.

It comes after Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes made a desperate plea to save the trees earlier this month.

The trees were due to be cut down to create a slip lane on the corner of King Street and Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West, where the work was set to start on Sunday 19 July.

At City of Newcastle’s Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday, a Lord Mayoral Minute to further protect the trees while calling on the NSW Government to abandon the project completely was unanimously supported. 

During the meeting Cr Nelmes expressed her opposition to the project and her disappointment in the government’s decision to move ahead without consultation.

“It would have been a real mistake to have started that project,” she said.

Cr Nelmes appreciated Transport for NSW’s current decision to temporarily halt the proposed works, but believed the slip lane on the corner of Stewart Avenue and King Street was not currently needed, and the project should not proceed at all.

Councillor John Mackenzie echoed her thoughts and noted the lack of consultation may have been indicative of a bigger problem.

“We need the state government to participate meaningfully and honestly in our public domain planning processes and then to respect the outcomes which are derived from multiple stakeholders including the community,” he said.

“It’s not good enough for them just to come in once again over the top of existing planning, over the top of existing articulated priorities for our community with half thought through ideas.

“I am glad this stopped when it did, but I think there is a larger problem at stake here which is the inability of the state government to respect the decisions of this council and of this community.”

Members of the community can still sign the petition here.