Aborist Ellison joins fig debate

ARBORIST Mike Ellison has become the latest to weigh into Newcastle’s exhaustive fig debate, and says he believes the trees are safe.

Mr Ellison, who was brought to Newcastle by Save Our Figs and invented the risk assessment method used by Newcastle City Council, inspected the trees this morning.

He said the test he invented produced variable results because it relied on the ‘‘subjective opinion’’ of the arborist.

Hear some of journalist Ben Smee's interview with Mike Ellison (above) by clicking below.

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Mr Ellison said he came from ‘‘the reasonable standpoint’’ while other arborists were too risk averse.

While he had already formed the view that the trees should stay, he said his formal assessment would be ‘‘as independent as possible.’’

‘‘There have been a lot of nasty comments about the arborists involved, about some of the Save Our Figs people and about some of the councillors and I really didn’t want to get involved in any of that,’’ Mr Ellison said.

‘‘But when Save Our Figs contacted me a few weeks ago I discussed it with my business partner ... we came to the conclusion that it would actually be unreasonable of me - if they were prepared to pay my expenses and my fees for coming out and doing the work - then it would be unreasonable of me to refuse to do it.’’

Newcastle City Council refused Mr Ellison access to Laman Street, and has expressed a number of reservations about the validity of any new test.

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