THE MYSTERY OF MEADOWHEAD’S DISAPPEARING TREES

 

THE MYSTERY OF MEADOWHEAD’S DISAPPEARING TREES
Now you see them, now you don’t – continued from the Sheffield Star Wildside article this coming weekend 2nd May

 P1620593 Nearby Norton Roundabout – this is how it was……..

This is how it is today at Meadowhead:

P1620467

THREATS TO TREES & WOODS IN & AROUND SHEFFIELD

Previous blogs have covered various issues of threats to our trees and woods. Whilst I accept that some roadside trees do require maintenance and even on occasions, replacement, the fogs and shrouds of misinformation in Sheffield’s tree management are not helpful.

1) Access to information? – I think not.

2) Ability to influence decision-making? – I think not.

3) Honesty? – sadly no – see the Meadowhead case which follows and my earlier blog for comments and pictures from last year.

DIG & DUMP

P1560043

From a site like this……

In essence, the Meadowhead Roundabout scheme, opportunistically responding to public grant aid, required space to dump the materials dug out from the carriageway. Where better than the roundabout – which would be ideal except for the trees – providing ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, and attractive landscape setting, noise and pollution reduction, and shielding west-driving motorists from blinding sunlight in the late afternoon rush-hour. How inconvenient is that.

P1560060

To a site like this……

So then, having totally ignored the City Council’s own ecological report and recommendations, AMEY produce their own ecologists who identifies a few nesting Woodpigeons, but misses the earlier observations, and hey presto we have a clean bill of health to proceed to flatten everything. Just three diseased trees and a few branches – I think not!

LOCAL OBJECTORS

There were protests over the Meadowhead Roundabout debacle a year or so back, but perseverance by Green Councillor Jillian Creasy has helped to unearth the real story – and one that is significantly different from what we were told at the time.

City Council officer Ian Taylor has helped to update Jillian on the situation. He explained that ‘Seventeen trees have been planted on the roundabout and forty laurels between the roundabout and Norton Lane. Amey advise that in total there will be fifty-seven trees and forty laurels to replace the fifty-nine trees by the end of this planting season.’ Well, check out my pictures to show the sad state of health or rather lack of health, of these planted specimens.

P1620453

A few pathetic & sad looking specimens – mostly dying:

Expensive, exotic, replacement trees & shrubs:

P1620456

P1620498

And dying………..

ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

The City Ecology Unit, provide the Council’s expert advice on wildlife conservation matters. They clarified for Jillian Creasy that in their written report, based on a site inspection by ecologist Julie Westfold, in 2010, that ‘….there were some very small-scale changes planned for the roundabout. I agreed to some lopping of branches overhanging the carriageway and the removal of three poplars, which were leaning out across the road and could have fallen onto the carriageway.’

The report passed to me by Jillian, then goes on to confirm the ecological value of the site including mammal activity of at least foxes. So the ecologists agreed to lopping of a few branches and removal of three trees. However, following the AMEY report in 2013, Council officers responsible translated this review back to the public to say that the roundabout had almost no ecological interest apart from nesting woodpigeons. These would be allowed to fledge and then their trees removed.

AMEY Meadowhead Roundabout – Environmental Site Visit 08.08.13

City Ecology Unit Report Meadowhead

The ‘minor’ works on the roundabout could then proceed, which in practice meant everything blitzed and in part justified by the claim that the ecologists approved. There is a substantial degree of hypocrisy in this since the roundabout did not shrink in size with the new works, all trees were removed, and essentially the site was used to store the soil and subsoil created by the adjacent road works. That is clearly, why the trees were removed – to dig & dump at low cost, and to provide a location for what appears to be a communications transmitter or aerial now placed in the centre of the roundabout. The few rather sad looking trees planted now appear mostly dead, as do the laurels planted nearby on Bochum Parkway. Like-for-like? I think not. But why not at least be open and honest? This was nothing to do with removing trees because they were dangerous – none was close to the highway in any case.

To this Meadowhead roundabout 2015

The costly result of ‘landscaping’ & ‘improvements’

We were also told that trees had to be removed because ‘they were self-set’ – which is shorthand for they came for free and cost nothing to maintain; oh, and actually they will be of greater ecological interest too – than a bunch of planted, expensive, exotic sticks .

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

When I asked how much was spent and what was the ongoing maintenance costs for the site before and after the works, the reply was ‘commercially sensitive and confidential’; so much for transparency and information being in the public domain. Privatisation of public services seems to mean they can all hide behind fogs of misinformation.

  • It is after all ‘our’ roundabout.
  • They were ‘our’ trees.
  • It is ‘our’ money.

From this to this - nearby Norton Roundabout, 2015This is not an ancient woodland or a species-rich historic site, BUT it provides a vital and precious piece in the necklace of biodiversity greenspaces across the city and the wider region – all links in the chain.

Find out more:

ACTION FOR WOODS & TREES

Come to ‘Action for Woods & Trees’ 15-16th May at St Mary’s Bramall Lane. More information on http://www.ukeconet.org

Action for Woods – 1page flyer

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5 Responses to THE MYSTERY OF MEADOWHEAD’S DISAPPEARING TREES

  1. Native Lad says:

    “…Amey advise that in total there will be…forty laurels…”

    Someone deserves a slap! I’m guessing it was a landscape architect that suggested laurel? No doubt because it is cheap and fast growing. If only people would be a little more patient and considerate. Come to think of it, just a little more professional!

    • marian tylecote says:

      That’s odd, in Brincliffe Edge Wood the city council is getting rid of the cherry laurel.
      What a mess this city’s once lauded green spaces are in

  2. Ian Kassell says:

    Another private sector mistake let our own people decide no wonder the greens are so popular Jack Scott was putty in Amey’s hands.
    Allowed them to do anything they wanted and if quizzed fell back on the old chestnut commercial confidentiality I that Graves will be turning in his grave when he sees the desolate meadowheadroundabout. Well done Prof Rotherham for alerting everybody.
    Ian Kassell

  3. Caroline Dewar says:

    I thought laurels used to be planted by Victorians purely because they were resistant to pollution. Not really the best choice for wildlife (or blossom or aesthetic appearance). Could they not plant relatively indigenous eco-friendly species? Probably not, as any trees would have to be well watered at least for the first year. I don’t think Amey do watering.

    • Technotronic says:

      “…I don’t think Amey do watering.”

      Compliance with current arboricultural best practice guidance and recommendations requires appropriate post planting maintenance. Amongst the most relevant documents that set out these requirements are those mentioned below.

      British Standard 8545:2014 “Trees: from nursery to independence in the landscape – Recommendations”.

      Here’s a link to the standard – in its entirety! It usually costs £218, so DOWNLOAD IT NOW, while it is available in PDF format as a FREE download (no doubt it will get yoinked off the internet soon):
      http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/WhiteRoseForest/pdf/treesFromNurseryToIndependenceInTheLandscape.pdf

      The government report “Trees in Towns 2: a new survey of urban trees in England and their condition and management”, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (published 2008.) also emphasised the importance of post planting maintenance. The report set ten targets for local authorities to achieve. The seventh target was

      “To ensure that at least 90% of all the LA’s newly planted trees, excluding
      woodland plantings, receive systematic post-planting maintenance until they
      are established.”

      “Respondents were asked to estimate the current percentage mortality rate, within the
      ESTABLISHMENT PHASE, for all newly planted LA trees in a range of categories…The average mortality rate for the LAs’ newly planted trees in various categories was as follows: Highways: 23.05%; Public Open Spaces: 24.41%; LA woodland: 15.30%…”

      http://www.lulu.com/shop/mark-johnston/trees-in-towns-ii/paperback/product-18906201.html

      http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/treesintownsii.pdf

      BTW, Laurels are very attractive while in flower and do attract many bees. 😉

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