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
This is how it is today at Meadowhead:
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
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.
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!
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.
A few pathetic & sad looking specimens – mostly dying:
Expensive, exotic, replacement trees & shrubs:
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.
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.
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.
This 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