Street Trees in the news!!

Street Trees in the news!!

Coverage of the campaign in The Guardian and in Now Then Magazine:

Please circulate these.

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/15/treeconomics-street-trees-cities-sheffield-itree

http://nowthenmagazine.com/sheffield/issue-89/localcheck/

And a bit more of the on-going chat:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/17/austerity-axe-trees-reading-books

 

 

Ian

This entry was posted in Latest News. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Street Trees in the news!!

  1. Technotronic says:

    REASONS TO RETAIN TREES

    ALL PEOPLE WITH AN INTEREST IN SAVING STREET TREES SHOULD SEE THE FOLLOWING SORT LETTER (14th July, 2015):

    Updated report from SORT – Letter to Sheffield City Council on Street Trees

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/updated-report-from-technotronic-letter-to-sheffield-city-council-on-street-trees/

    • Technotronic says:

      A LETTER THAT “THE GUARDIAN” WOULD NOT PUBLISH

      The following letter reached my inbox at the start of this week:

      “Re: The Secret of Treeconomics, published in print on 15/8/2015.
      http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/15/treeconomics-street-trees-cities-sheffield-itree

      I enjoyed Treeconomics news item very much. However, I in order to ensure readers have a more balanced view of the current situation in Sheffield, I feel it is necessary to highlight a few points…

      When it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they represented a trip hazard, an active campaign to challenge policy sprung in to action (SORT). Full details can be found online at Prof Ian Rotherham’s Blog (August section). Campaigners demanded a stop to all non-urgent felling until a tree strategy had been draughted in accordance with current best practice and adopted as Council policy. After a month, in response to a >10,000 signature petition, the Labour Council agreed to produce a tree strategy. At this point, the Council claimed that such trees had to be felled, in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equalities Act, as they were “discriminatory”: they hinder accessibility and mobility. The Council claimed felling was a reasonable response, as required by the Acts, and that there were no other reasonably practicable solutions. For every tree felled, just ONE is planted. Between August 2012 & July 2015, 2,019 street trees were felled. The felling continues until 2018. FOI request responses have revealed that the Council & Amey have only one set of highway engineering specifications, used for all streets, regardless of whether or not there are existing trees: no alternative specifications have been commissioned or draughted.”

  2. Technotronic says:

    TREE STRATEGY PUBLIC MEETING

    The following announcement has been made:

    “There will be a meeting at the Heeley Institute on Tuesday 25th August at 7pm.
    The purpose of the meeting is to get all the different tree protest groups around the city to unify under one banner with the main aim of getting the council to implement a positive tree strategy at the earliest possible opportunity.”

    All with an interest in the management of Sheffield’s urban forest (the city-wide tree population), and those intending to attend would greatly benefit from reading CHAPTER 6 (particularly pages 399 to 412) of the TREES IN TOWNS 2 report, commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and published in 2008, by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

    The report aims to “help shape central and local government policy on urban trees” (Britt, et al., 2008, p. 477) and: “encourage the LAs [Local Authorities] to develop higher standards of management in order to deliver a more efficient and effective tree programme for their communities” (Britt, et al., 2008, p. 406).

    To this end, chapter six sets ten targets for Local Authorities to achieve (by 2013):

    1. The LA should have at least one specialist tree officer

    2. The LA should obtain at least £15,000 in external funding for its tree programme
    over the next five years

    3. Develop and implement a comprehensive tree strategy

    4. Undertake a Best Value Review (BVR) of its tree programme

    5. Install a computerised tree management system

    6. At least 40% of the LA’s tree maintenance work should be done on a systematic,
    regularly scheduled cycle

    7. At least 90% of all the LA’s newly planted trees, excluding woodland plantings, should receive systematic post-planting maintenance until they are established

    8. Establish a programme within the next five years that will ensure every TPO is
    reviewed on a specified cycle

    9. Every LA that has a planning function should have a comprehensive
    Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document relating to trees and development

    10.Every consent to work on protected trees to be monitored regularly and enforcement action taken where necessary

    These targets are in addition to the ten “Key Recommendations” that SORT highlighted (in the letter to Cllr Fox, dated 14/7/2015) that the report makes to those responsible for commissioning and draughting a tree strategy:

    1) The tree strategy should be based on a good knowledge of the existing urban forest and the conditions in which it grows.

    2) Try to ensure that the process of strategy preparation has political and community support.

    3) The strategy should be linked to other aspects of the urban environment and other relevant strategies.

    4) The strategy should cover all aspects of the LA’s tree programme and the urban forest, including both public and privately owned trees and woodlands.

    5) Ensure widespread and effective consultation on the draft strategy document.

    6) The strategy document should be written in plain English and any technical terms should be explained.

    7) The strategy should not just include policies towards trees but also an action plan to ensure implementation.

    8) The action plan should include SMART targets, preferably costed.

    9) The strategy should be adopted as LA policy.

    10) Ensure regular monitoring and review of the strategy.
    (Britt, et al., 2008, p. 543)

    YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF THE ENTIRE REPORT, IN PDF FORMAT, VIA THE FOLLOWING LINK (list price: £55!):

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/262857090_Trees_in_Towns_II_A_new_survey_of_urban_trees_in_England_and_their_condition_and_management

    Get it for free while you can. 😉

  3. Technotronic says:

    TREE STRATEGY: A NECESSITY

    BRITISH STANDARD 8545:2014
    TREES: FROM NURSERY TO INDEPENDENCE IN THE LANDSCAPE – RECOMMENDATIONS

    EXCERPTS from “Annex A (informative) ‘Further guidance on policy and strategy'”:

    “Tree planting and continuing management are rarely without purpose. A tree strategy, usually produced by the local authority and LINKED TO THE WIDER STRATEGY AND POLICY FRAMEWORK, addresses the way in which the established policy objectives will be delivered, taking into account resources, pressures and environmental opportunities and constraints that will affect delivery.”

    “…IT GUIDES AND INFORMS DECISIONS relating to the authority’s or other body’s own estates and also on other land over which the authority or other body exercises powers or controls, particularly through planning or other formal management systems.”

    “…A strategy is typically PRODUCED FOR A DEFINED PERIOD OF TIME, AND ALLOWS FOR
    MONITORING AND REVIEW AND FOR MODIFICATION where needed to achieve desired
    objectives.”

    “The management of trees, particularly within urban areas, needs to address potential conflicts with other land uses or activities, or adaptation to changed circumstances. Management and maintenance are therefore essential parts of a tree strategy, and the financial and other resource implications of this need to be addressed.”

    “Tree strategies INCORPORATE PROVISION FOR ADEQUATE FINANCIAL AND OTHER RESOURCES TO ENABLE DELIVERY OF REQUIRED LEVELS OF MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE over a long-term period or, where possible, in perpetuity. They include reference to the anticipated scope of the management and maintenance inputs needed to deliver the desired objectives.”

    “Tree strategies seek TO DEMONSTRATE GOOD VALUE BY INCLUDING, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, DATA ON THE ESTIMATED ECONOMIC VALUE OF AND RETURN ON INVESTMENT from trees included in a strategy, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND ASSOCIATED DIRECT AND INDIRECT BENEFITS.”

    “Tree strategies primarily focus on the public estate, owned and managed by the local authority producing the strategy. However, around 70% of the urban tree population is owned and managed outside the public arena. IT IS THE WHOLE TREE POPULATION, BOTH PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY OWNED, WHICH DELIVERS THE BENEFITS associated with TREE COVER and to which new tree planting contributes.

    “To maintain a resilient tree population capable of delivering its benefits into the
    future, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT LINKAGES BETWEEN THE PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY OWNED ESTATES ARE ESTABLISHED AND MAINTAINED. Tree strategies provide a framework for this to happen and are therefore worthy of consultation before any planned tree planting is converted to action on the ground.”

    “The linkages between the publicly and privately owned tree estate are beginning to be recognized through the growing understanding and VALUATION OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND BENEFITS to which trees make a significant contribution. The i-tree urban forest model, which is being used more extensively in the UK, evaluates both publicly and privately owned trees, assesses their combined benefits and ENABLES COORDINATED POLICY AND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT.”

  4. Technotronic says:

    TREE STRATEGY PUBLIC MEETING

    Well, I attended the first hour and twenty minutes of the meeting at Heeley Institute. Other than agreeing that a tree strategy was needed and that people should continue to campaign for one, to have a say in how it is developed and in the nature of its policies and plans, there was no further discussion or debate on the topic. For me, that was a big disappointment, as I had been interested in hearing peoples hopes, opinions, beliefs and reasoning.

    Points of organisation and information distribution were discussed, with some positive plans made. There was a lot of whinging about Cllr Fox using the Highway Tree Advisory Forum as nothing more than a platform to present the policies and intentions of Streets Ahead.

    It was agreed by those present that a new umbrella group would be established to represent all tree groups throughout the city, that it would be run by a committee and that it would be called Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG).

    A couple of females asked a number of questions which have, in truth, already been answered by Cllr Fox, Steve Robinson or Streets Ahead, either at the meeting of full Council on 1st July, at the inaugural meeting of the tree forum, or in communications with SORT. Oddly enough, they didn’t invite answers or ask whether anybody else present had received official answers. I hope those females find this blog. Hopefully, Ian will continue to post the odd SORT documents here and, in that way, information can be shared?

    One woman was keen to point out that trees needed to be “maintained” and that much of the felling was because trees had not received adequate maintenance for decades. When challenged, she did concede that this was not a justification for felling. She stated that she was just really wanting to point out that trees had been felled previously and that there had been no subsequent planting at those sites. In short, this is NOT a maintenance issue, but a strategy issue, to be addressed by policies, plans and specifications that deal with sustainability, design, ground preparation and specifications for planting and aftercare.

    One man explained that previously he has reported a hanging branch and nobody had come to deal with it for weeks. He cited this as an example of inadequate maintenance. In truth, it is not always possible or reasonably practicable to detect whether there is increased likelihood that a specific plant part will fail. A detailed assessment cannot be undertaken for every tree. Indeed, that is NOT what the law requires: it would not be reasonably practicable to do so! As SORT communications point out:

    “…THE DUTY OF CARE IMPOSED ON THE SURVEYOR OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL IS NOT TO GET IT RIGHT EVERY TIME, BUT TO EXERCISE THE CARE OF A ‘REASONABLY SKILLED’ MEMBER OF THAT PROFESSION”

    In fact, the case of the hanging branch may not have been a maintenance issue, but an emergency response issue! Prior to the PFI contract, the Council had a 24/7 emergency response team to deal with all such emergencies. It was poorly managed and under resourced, but very efficient, very responsive and verry effective.

    Even apparently sound plants/plant parts fail occasionally. 😉

    To borrow SORT’s quotes:

    “People are prepared to accept a degree of risk because of the value of the trees, and the pleasure they derive from visiting or participating in leisure activities in treed environments. Therefore, it is acceptable that tree management does not seek to eliminate all risk…”
    (The National Tree Safety Group, 2011, p. 81)

    “Eliminating trees to remove all risk is undesirable and disproportionate in the light of all the wide range of benefits they provide.”
    (The National Tree Safety Group, 2011, p. 56)

    Work cited:
    The National Tree Safety Group, 2011. Common Sense Risk Management of Trees: Guidance on trees and public safety in the UK for owners, managers and advisers. Forestry Commission Stock Code: FCMS024 ed. Edinburgh: Forestry Commission.

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/publications.nsf/searchpub/?SearchView&Query=(FCMS024)&SearchOrder=4&SearchMax=0&SearchWV=TRUE&SearchThesaurus=TRUE

  5. Technotronic says:

    At the Heeley meeting, another female mentioned how trees had been felled on MYRTLE ROAD. She blamed the Council. Actually, I have heard of that incident. After making enquiries, I am convinced that those trees were felled by cowboys, masquerading as council workers (NOT Council workers) – they didn’t even wear protective clothing. The same female also claimed that the Council fell trees to allow space for the construction of driveways, to allow greater light through to buildings and to open up views from buildings. However, with great certainty, I am convinced this is not the case. The Council certainly didn’t prune or fell HIGHWAY TREES for any of those reasons before the PFI contract (mainly because they couldn’t afford to) and, according to the current information on the Council’s website, that is still the case:

    “Work we can’t do

    We are unable to carry out work where:
    ◾Trees belong to private properties
    ◾Falling leaves or fruit are causing an annoyance
    ◾Falling blossom, sap or bird droppings are causing an annoyance
    ◾Trees are blocking light or causing shade
    ◾Trees are obstructing telephone wires (contact your telephone service provider)
    ◾Trees are obstructing TV or satellite reception
    ◾We do not remove trees for construction or widening of driveways”

    REFERENCE:
    https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/in-your-area/report_request/plants/trees.html

    Of course it is a lie to say they can’t do those things. What they mean is that they are UNWILLING to do those things.

  6. Technotronic says:

    36,000 STREET TREES IN SHEFFIELD

    The Council believe that just ensuring that number is maintained constitutes a sustainable approach to management of this significant component of the urban forest.

    “An independent tree survey carried out in 2006/7 indicated that approximately 75% of Sheffield’s highway tree stock was reaching the end of its natural life, and only around 5% of trees fell into the “young” age grouping.”

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/another-unhappy-customer-from-rustlings-road/comment-page-1/#comment-862

    Cllr Fox’s comments on 1st July:

    “We had an independent survey done in 2006-2007 which helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract which… The survey noted that 74% of our mature tree stock with very few young trees has given this combination the rate of decline evidence by the number of trees needing treatment.”

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/streets-ahead-stocksbridge-trees

    The words of David Wain (SCC), in a letter dated 23rd March, 2015, addressed to a leading SORT campaigner:

    “The initial asset survey of all 36,000 highway trees was undertaken by Acorn, however Amey are now utilising their own in house staff for both the cyclical safety inspections and also the pre-Streets Ahead works surveys. Amey cannot fell a tree without approval from the Council, and as such all requests for tree felling are assessed by qualified tree inspectors from the Council’s client team in order to ensure that all requests are legitimate and the works are proportionate and required.”

    • Technotronic says:

      TREE SURVEY / FOI

      I’m confused. David Wain (leader of the SCC Environmental Technical Advisory Team) stated: “The initial asset survey of all 36,000 highway trees was undertaken by Acorn…”. This is one of the sub-contractors now felling trees.
      http://aemg.co.uk/

      However, the following link has come to my attention:
      http://www.elliottconsultancy.com/sheffield-city-highways-tree-survey

      Quote:
      “Sheffield City Council Highways Tree Survey
      Posted on: 07-8-2007 by: admin

      Working with Chris Britton for Sheffield City Council, between 2006 and 2007 Elliott Consultancy Ltd undertook a survey of all trees located within the highways of Sheffield city. Using GIS and a bespoke data collection form, some 35,000 individual trees were inspected with regard to their physiological and structural condition. Remedial works were recommended where necessary and an indication of on-going management provided.”

      Perhaps Wain was confused? I am.

      If Elliott Consultancy Ltd did do the survey, I’d be interested to know which method/s they claim to have used to assess the physiological condition of each tree. Furthermore, I’d like to see the results and the survey report.

      Unfortunately, SORT did submit the following Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests on 3rd August, 2015, only to be issued – on 7th August, 2015 – with a “Section 14 refusal” under the FOI Act (meaning the Council is unwilling to provide information requested under the Act):

      Reference – FOI / 580 (Status: Refused)
      “Please provide a complete copy of the 2006/2007 highway tree survey report and recommendations, and please include the complete statistical data.”

      Reference – FOI / 581 (Status: Refused)
      “Please provide a complete copy of the 2012 Amey highway tree survey report and recommendations, and please include the complete statistical data.”

      The Council appear to be now abusing Section 14 to wiggle out of providing any detailed information.

  7. Technotronic says:

    ONE WAY TO [POSSIBLY] STOP FELLING

    Familiarise yourself with the arguments in SORT communications, particularly the letter to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July, 20115.

    Remember, at the initial meeting of the tree forum, Steve Robinson (Head of Highway Maintenance) – “responsible for the Streets Ahead Project” commented, with regard to works proposals:

    “…those recommendations are then made to the Council tree experts who then independently verify that recommendation. The Council has the final say on any treatment of a tree. Those decisions are made at a corporate level rather than independent – at the individual. SO, THERE IS A DETAILED PROCESS THROUGH WHICH DECISIONS ARE MADE, ULTIMATELY ENDING WITH ME.”

    steve.robinson@sheffield.gov.uk

    Amanda Preston
    PA to Steve Robinson
    Head of Highway Maintenance
    5th Floor (South)
    Howden House
    Sheffield
    S1 2SH

    Tel +44 (0) 114 2053590
    E-mail Amanda.Preston@sheffield.gov.uk
    (Monday to Wednesday)
    Web http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead
    Twitter @sccstreetsahead

    Further info:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/updated-report-from-technotronic-letter-to-sheffield-city-council-on-street-trees/

  8. Technotronic says:

    THE STAR

    A very good but very brief summary of the SORT campaign appeared in the letters section of yesterday’s newspaper:
    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/letters-opinion/highway-trees-forum-1-7439380#comments-area

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s