New figs finding not a sure thing: GM

AN internal Newcastle City Council memo has warned that an ‘‘independent assessment’’ of the Laman Street fig trees would not necessarily outweigh its existing studies that say the trees are a risk.

The memo, sent by general manager Phil Pearce and seen by the Newcastle Herald, said a new report ‘‘[would] not erase the body of knowledge already in existence’’.

‘‘If the agreed arborist provided a report that dissented from the large number of independent and internal reports already received, council will need to consider what weight should [the council] and our insurers be expected to give to it,’’ he wrote.

Mr Pearce also raised a number of ‘‘practical concerns’’ with community calls to conduct another assessment or evaluation.

Save Our Figs vehemently disagreed with the comments, and said a comprehensive independent assessment would highlight serious flaws in earlier studies.

Save Our Figs spokeswoman Fee Mozeley said the group wanted to revive the process abandoned by the council in September, which included a desktop audit of the existing studies and a fresh risk assessment.

She did not accept that any new assessment would need to be weighed against existing reports.

‘‘International experts, such as [engineer] Mark Stewart ... have said the council misapplied the [risk assessment] method,’’ Ms Mozeley said.

‘‘If [flaws with the initial report] are formally acknowledged, then that body of evidence from the council would not carry the same weight.’’

She said ‘‘third-tier’’ testing may be needed to provide a more conclusive outcome.

A judgment on a Save Our Figs application for a court injunction will be handed down at 4pm today.

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