The Laman Street figs come down

Protesters tore down fences this morning as chainsaws began felling the Laman Street fig trees.

The day began dramatically at 4am, as trucks, police and workmen swarmed on the street and began quietly preparing to remove the 14 controversial fig trees.

Trucks and a crane were ushered into the work zone.

About 5.45am, the chainsaws started.

Angry activists charged the fences and tore down a perimeter fence that is still lying twisted in the middle of the road.

Scenes at Laman Street this morning. - Video by Dean Osland and Darren Pateman

About 60 police officers are in the Civic precinct and acting local area commander Trevor Sheils said at a press conference police were present to protect the rights of protesters and workers.

‘‘I’ll certainly support the police should they have to take action to stop any violent or disorderly conduct, and that includes the obstruction of people trying to go about their work," acting local area commander Sheils said.

One man has been arrested after climbing into the work zone. He was led away by police about 5.50am.

Newcastle City Council has this morning responded to several claims from protesters.

Work began before dawn, and many at the front line, including lord mayor John Tate, suggested the council had breached its own noise regulations.

The council said it believed it had acted appropriately.

When work began, street lights were still on in the street. These were turned off after cries from fig protesters.

Work is expected to take several days, and people are being urged to avoid the area.

Laman Street has been closed between Dawson and Auckland streets.

AUDIO

Acting Local Area Commander Trevor Shiels speaks to the media.

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Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate speaking at Laman Street.

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Save Our Figs spokesperson Fee Mozeley speaking at Laman Street.

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TIMELINE

7.22am: Work felling the iconic figs continues as people look on.

6.04am: Chainsaws began ripping through the branches and angry protesters chanting "shame" tear down perimeter fencing.

5.55am: It sounds like the chainsaws have started. People are yelling and trying to tear down the fences.

5.14am: The Newcastle lord mayor, John Tate, arrives at Laman Street.

4.43am: Police swiftly move protesters away from the front of the tabernacle.

4.42am: Police ask a few protesters to move. They say that area will soon be blocked off.

4.37am: More protesters begin to arrive. Police and workmen remain inside fence.

4.15am: Fee Mozeley, of Save our Figs, arrives at Laman Street.

4.08am: Trucks and workmen inside security fencing on Laman Street.

4.02am: Tree removal trucks drive in to Laman Street.

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