Latest from Deepa and the Trees Campaign

Latest from Deepa and the Trees Campaign  

Sheffield City Council, streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk: Save the 12 Trees on Rustlings Road, Sheffield
by Deepa Shetty · 6,703 supporters
Petition update
How DARE they.

Deepa Shetty
Sheffield, United Kingdom
18 Nov 2016 — Dear supporters

At 5 O’clock yesterday morning, law-abiding residents of a quiet street, were woken up by police officers and ordered to move their cars. When they refused to comply, they were arrested. Are we talking about some distant reaches of Russia or China here? No. This is the 21st century Labour Council of Sheffield, acting at the behest of a multi-national company, Amey.

Amey felled the 8 mature trees on Rustlings Road, that thousands of campaigners have been lobbying through the appropriate avenues to save, for the last 18 months. The recommendations of the Independent Tree Panel, released at 4.25am yesterday morning on the Council website, suggested that 7 out of 8 of the trees should be retained. Yet, half an hour later, at 5am, there were tree surgeons already up these trees, chain saws running. The ITP results for Rustlings Road had been suppressed from July 2016.

Sheffield City Council is using the South Yorkshire Police Force to impose the will of a private company and we cannot tolerate this.

We know that many of you are feeling very angry and upset. Harness this energy! Don’t take these shocking events lying down:

1. Complain about the decision that SYP took yesterday, to use Orgreave like tactics to arrest peaceful protesters. Nobody was on strike here. This law was designed for a different set of circumstances. http://bit.ly/2fMNQrj

2. Complain to John Mothersole (SCC Chief Executive): john.mothersole@sheffield.gov.uk
3. Complain to Cllr Bryan Lodge, for the decision he took yesterday: bryan.lodge@sheffield.gov.uk
4. Complain to Steve Robinson, Head of Highways: steve.robinson@sheffield.gov.uk
5. Complain to Cllr Julie Dore, leader of SCC: julie.dore@sheffield.gov.uk

6. Complain to your local Cllrs and MPs, particularly if they are Labour: http://bit.ly/2grbazh

7. Write to the Star: letters@thestar.co.uk
8. Write to The Telegraph, The Yorkshire Post and the National press.
9. Do phone-ins to support tree campaigners on radio.

10. Comment on the draft Tree Strategy here: http://bit.ly/2g5SIbV Remember that this is a 25-year contract and there are 27,000 mature street trees at risk. An adequate tree strategy is the only way to ensure policy change.

This is not going away. We did not work this hard and for this long for Rustlings Road Trees to be sacrificed for nothing.

SCC, SYP and Amey got it wrong yesterday. Let us ALL let them know by how much.

AFOOFA
SORT

Sheffield City Council – Home
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https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield/u/18517166?tk=TWy6uwVCJW_fGFXqU4hnmzRXqtWeXqCan3i-4R8mXhE&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email

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18 Responses to Latest from Deepa and the Trees Campaign

  1. Technotronic says:

    THE SECRET £2.2bn AMEY PFI CONTRACT

    Extracts From Dave Caulfield’s* Witness Statement, to The High Court of Justice (Queen’s Bench Division Administrative Court), Dated 29th February, 2016
    (case ref: CO/613/2016),

    *SCC’s Director of Development Services: “responsible for highway related-matters”

    10.
    IN 2008 THE COUNCIL’S CABINET FORMALLY APPROVED THE OUTSOURCING OF ITS HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE SERVICE following the Department for Transport’s (‘DfT’) approval of an Outline Business Case awarding Sheffield pathfinder status as part of its highway maintenance PFI programme.

    11.
    The pathfinder STATUS GAVE THE COUNCIL THE ABILITY TO DETERMINE THE FULL SCOPE OF THE OUTSOURCED HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE SERVICE. The Council’s Cabinet approved the procurement of a ‘fence to fence’ service contract to be competitively tendered in the PFI highwaays industry. THE COUNCIL WENT OUT TO THE MARKET IN APRIL 2009 TO PROCURE A SERVICE PROVIDER who could provide a fully integrated highway maintenance service, bringing innovation and highway maintenance expertise to the city.

    12.
    Following the detailed bid process, including regular reviews by the DfT and independent auditors, THE COUNCIL SECURED THE NECESSARY PFI CREDITS IN MARCH 2009 AND COMMENCED A PROCUREMENT PROCESS under the Competative Dialogue procedure. After a detailed procurement process, AMEY WERE APPOINTED IN MARCH 2012 AND THE CONTRACT WAS ENTERED INTO ON 31ST JULY 2012 WITH SERVICES COMMENCING IN AUGUST 2012.

    13.
    THE 25 YEAR CONTRACT TERM COMPRISES A 5-YEAR CORE INVESTMENT PERIOD TO CLEAR A BACKLOG OF MAINTENANCE (TO DECEMBER 2017) AND A 20 YEAR PERIOD OF LIFECYCLE MAINTENANCE.

    The funding for the contract is sourced from four banks and three equity providers. THE DfT IS the sponsoring government department, PROVIDING APPROXIMATELY £45 MILLION OF PFI GRANT EACH YEAR.

    THE COUNCIL ALSO CONTRIBUTES APPROXIMATELY £1 BILLION OVER THE LIFE OF THE CONTRACT through a combination of prudential borrowing and revenue budgets.

    THE PFI GRANT IS COMBINED WITH COUNCIL FUNDING AND IS USED TO PAY THE ANNUAL UNITARY CHARGE WHICH PAYS AMEY FOR ALL OF THE SERVICES PROVIDED and pays back the bank debt and equity debt, providing a return on investment for private sector investors.

    14.
    In accordance with PFI principles, AMEY AS THE SERVICE PROVIDER CARRIES THE MAJORITY OF THE OPERATIONAL, LEGAL AND FINANCIAL RISKS associated with providing a ‘fence to fence’ highway maintenance service. THIS RISK INCLUDES BEING LIABLE FOR ALL HIGHWAY RELATED INSURANCE CLAIMS RESULTING FROM HISTORICALLY POORLY MAINTAINED HIGHWAY ASSETS e.g. footways and highway trees. The purpose of this is to incentivise best practice from Amey.

    *****

    Please note that in a Witness Statement to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division: case ref: C1/2016/1819), dated 15th JUNE, 2016, Simon Green (SCC’s Executive Director for the “Place” portfolio, to which the Planning and Highways departments report) informed:

    “MR CAULFIELD RECENTLY LEFT SCC TO TAKE UP A NEW POST”.

    THIS HAS NOT BEEN PUBLICISED.

    **** THE DISGRACED STEVE ROBINSON IS NOW AGAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIGHWAY TREES. ****

    * http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/we-re-not-interested-sheffield-council-boss-caught-on-tape-slamming-residents-petition-1-7498593

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/listen-sheffield-council-sorry-after-highways-chi@f-s-views-on-tree-felling-recorded-1-7498357

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/trees-new-council-chi@f-to-lead-sheffield-felling-confirmed-after-secret-recording-apology-1-7530838

    • Technotronic says:

      STEVE ROBINSON (SCC HEAD OF HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE) is an engineer by profession.

      Steve Robinson – was interviewed for the December 2012 issue of Transportation Professional: a Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation publication. The publication informs:

      “OVER THE FIRST FIVE YEARS of the 25 year Streets Ahead deal…” AMEY will be: “REPLACING HALF OF THE CITY’S 36,000 HIGHWAY TREES”.

      SOURCE:
      The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation, 2012. Transportation Professional. [Online] Available at:
      http://www.ciht.org.uk/download.cfm/docid/EAFEC96C-F341-455B-B811F1C627AC75AD [Accessed 15 October 2015].

      This is the same man that asserts that SCC’s list of 25 ideas (which the Streets Ahead team refer to as “engineering options/solutions”) [1] represent alternative highway engineering specifications for footway, kerb, drain and wall construction, for consideration as a means to retain mature highway trees. He still asserts this is the case, even though the Information Commissioner has investigated and concluded that THE LIST DOES NOT REPRESENT A SET OF ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS. [2]

      NOTES

      1) https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/204#comment-204
      2) https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/690#comment-690

      Mr Robinson is also responsible for the flood prevention programme:
      https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/sheffield-city-council-scc-upper-don-flood-consultation

    • Technotronic says:

      FELLING: SCC/AMEY INCOMPETENCE AND DECEIT

      ***

      A LETTER TO THE STAR

      At the start of the week, on Tuesday 22nd November, 2016, the following letter arrived in my inbox. The author has given permission for me to post it here, in its entirety, for your benefit.

      ***

      ‘Following the 5:00am raid on 17th November 2016, to fell healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees on Rustlings Road, households on streets in many parts of the city have received a letter from Sheffield City Council (SCC) inviting a household representative to complete an online survey to indicate whether or not the household agrees to tree felling proposals for their street. The letter presents a number of assertions, each of which are intended to foster support for felling. In this letter, I will briefly tackle the matter of sustainable management, with the intention of enabling households to develop a more informed opinion.

      THE COLLECTIVE TREE AND WOODLAND COVER OF THE CITY REPRESENTS AN URBAN FOREST, as defined by “The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management” (UKFS) and the UNITED NATIONS (FAO Forestry Paper 178). The latter clearly states that STREET TREES ARE PART OF THE URBAN FOREST. It states: “URBAN FORESTS ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE”. The UKFS defines a sustainable approach as:

      “The stewardship and use of forests and forest lands
      In a way, and at a rate, that MAINTAINS… their
      potential to fulfil, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE,
      relevant ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL FUNCTIONS,
      at local, national, and global levels..”

      THE URBAN FOREST IS DEFINED BY AREA OF CANOPY COVER and trees outside woodland contribute the most to that, as they have larger crowns. According to SCC guesstimates, trees outside woodland account for about 56% of Sheffield’s trees. THE MAGNITUDE AND VALUE OF ECO-SYSTEM SERVICE BENEFITS (e.g. grams of nitrogen dioxide captured per year*) that trees afford to the environment and communities, associated with functions (e.g. filtration of airborne pollutants), IS DEPENDENT ON THE SHAPE SIZE AND DISTRIBUTION OF CANOPY COVER. This is why the felling of so many thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature trees is so controversial. MASS FELLING DIMINISHES CANOPY COVER. It does not maintain it. I have met with SCC’s CABINET MEMBER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (Cllr BRYAN LODGE) and Amey’s Operations Director (Darren Butt: responsible for all highway maintenance until 2037). Neither recognise nor accept that STREET TREES ARE PART OF SHEFFIELD’S URBAN FOREST. This is why they have wrongly set their own definition of sustainable tree population management: “one-for-one replacement”. It takes no account of the impact of proposals on canopy cover. According to the Chairman of the Arboricultural Association (Keith Sacre: Chartered Arboriculturist), 60 TREES WOULD NEED TO BE PLANTED TO REPLACE THE LEAVES LOST BY FELLING JUST ONE MATURE LONDON PLANE TREE. Furthermore, neither SCC nor Amey (the contractor for the £2.2bn, city-wide highway maintenance project) have valued Sheffield’s highway trees, or any of the range of benefits they afford to neighbourhoods and communities. THE MEAN CAPITAL ASSET VALUE FOR AMENITY TREES (CAVAT) FOR THE EIGHT TREES FELLED ON RUSTLINGS ROAD WAS £19,933, as assessed by the inventor of the nationally recognised and accepted CAVAT method: Mr Christopher Neilan (Landscape Officer & Arboriculturist).

      When I met Cllr Lodge, on 1st August, 2016, and complained about the APPARENT DISREGARD FOR COMPLIANCE WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE, BY THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM (SCC & AMEY), when undertaking works in close proximity to highway trees, and an apparent absence of adequate supervision, monitoring, auditing and enforcement, Cllr LODGE responded:

      “We’re having to shave back on where we’re monitoring. So, the money for the maintenance side is in there, but the monitoring – the client management side – is not part of that, and that’s where we’re having to make funding cuts… THE MONEY THAT WE NEED TO MONITOR THAT CONTRACT IS NOT THERE, because we try to make savings and…where people have left, we haven’t replaced. We’ve done vacancy management, so WE HAVEN’T GOT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THAT CLIENT MANAGEMENT TEAM WHICH WE OUGHT TO HAVE.”

      Cllr LODGE INFORMED THAT SCC HAD FINED AMEY OVER £2m DURING 2015, for neglect to meet agreed standards. He added that SCC were “just in the process of taking some action against Amey”, for the same reason. If felling is genuinely a “last resort”, all but one of the trees felled on Rustlings Road should have been retained. Cllr LODGE LED ME TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE £2m COULD BE USED TO RETAIN TREES ON RUSTLINGS ROAD, SPECIFICALLY. In October 2015, Amey’s Operations Manager (JEREMY WILLIS: responsible for highway trees), stated:

      “Firstly, I would like to stress that we are not removing any trees unless it is absolutely necessary.
      …there is no financial gain for Amey to remove trees. In fact the opposite is true, as IT IS MORE COSTLY TO FELL AND REPLACE A TREE THAN MAINTAIN IT IN THE CURRENT POSITION.”

      THE TREES ON RUSTLINGS ROAD WERE FELLED BECAUSE, LIKE MOST MATURE HIGHWAY TREES IN SHEFFIELD, THEY WERE ASSOCIATED WITH DAMAGE TO THE FOOTWAY AND KERB. With regard to such damage, at the second (most recent) meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Tree Advisory Forum (2nd Sept, 2015), SCC’s Head of Highway Maintenance (STEVE ROBINSON) promised: “…if an engineering solution can be applied, then it will be applied. …a tree is removed as a last resort”. He added: “THE COUNCIL HAS A DEFENCE UNDER THE HIGHWAYS ACT – SECTION 58 DEFENCE UNDER THE HIGHWAYS ACT – OF NOT HAVING SUFFICIENT FUNDING TO DEAL WITH ALL THOSE DEFECTS.”

      Previously, I have criticised SCC and Amey: “BOTH AMEY AND SCC HAVE NEGLECTED TO COMMISSION OR DRAUGHT ANY ALTERNATIVE HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION FOR USE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO FELLING”. This is supported by the conclusions of an investigation by the Information Commissioner, published in February 2016. On 5th October, 2016, SCC’s DIRECTOR OF PLACE (SIMON GREEN: responsible for HIGHWAYS and PLANNING) responded: “The Council has not needed to commission any alternative engineering solutions”. On 1st August, 2016, Cllr LODGE INFORMED ME THAT USE OF ALTERNATIVE SPECIFICATIONS WOULD REPRESENT A “DEVIATION” FROM THE AMEY CONTRACT AND THAT THEIR USE HAD NOT BEEN BUDGETED FOR. He asserted that the use of such specifications was unaffordable and therefore not a reasonably practicable option. THIS IS CONTRARY TO THE RANGE OF “NATIONAL BEST PRACTICE” THAT SCC & AMEY CLAIM TO COMPLY WITH AND AIM TO “BUILD ON”.

      In December 2015, communicating on behalf of Mr Green, SCC’s Director of Development Services stated: “I can advise that the scope of the UKFS and Guidelines does not extend to the management of individual trees (arboriculture)”. In October 2016, the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership (SYFP: the partnership responsible for the South Yorkshire Community Forest) finally closed, when SCC withdrew support. The FYFP Director (Johanna Mawson) commented:

      “Also for SYFP ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES HAS BEEN THE LACK OF ANY STRATEGIC WORKING CONTEXT FROM WITHIN COUNCIL, IN OUR CASE THE PLACE DIRECTORATE, AND SPECIFICALLY IN RESPECT TO THE KEY CHALLENGES FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING AND PROJECTS. …There is also no committed resource for the Green Commission and no delivery strategy in place. All capacity for developing environmental sustainability for Sheffield has been eroded at an alarming rate”.

      SCC’s Green Commission was a group set up “to recommend how to make the city sustainable” and develop a twenty-year plan for SCC’s approach to policies for and management of green infrastructure (Cllr Lodge is co-Chair). A final report was published in February 2016; it includes a Venn diagram that presents economic, health/social and environmental benefits as a “triple bottom line”, with SUSTAINABILITY at the core.

      The UK Government has existing international and European commitments to apply the precautionary principle:

      “WHERE THERE ARE THREATS OF SERIOUS OR IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE, LACK OF FULL SCIENTIFIC CERTAINTY SHALL NOT BE USED AS A REASON FOR POSTPONING COST-EFFECTIVE MEASURES TO PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.”

      To quote the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (“the public body that advises the UK Government and devolved administrations”):

      “THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE IS ONE OF THE KEY ELEMENTS FOR POLICY DECISIONS CONCERNING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT. IT IS APPLIED IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE THERE ARE REASONABLE GROUNDS FOR CONCERN THAT AN ACTIVITY IS, OR COULD, CAUSE HARM BUT WHERE THERE IS UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE PROBABILITY OF THE RISK AND THE DEGREE OF HARM.”

      However, in September 2015, the STREETS AHEAD team asserted:
      “Government summit commitments of this kind (i.e. Rio Earth Summit 1992) are not binding on local authorities unless and until they are incorporated into legislation.”

      In December 2015, COMMUNICATING ON BEHALF OF MR GREEN, this opinion was supported by SCC’s Director of Development Services. He stated:
      “agreements in EU conventions are not binding upon Local Authorities unless written into statute.”

      The Director was responding to the following criticism:
      “The Council have failed to comply with both the Arhus Convention and European Directive 2001/42/EC”.

      THE DIRECTIVE REQUIRES APPLICATION OF THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.

      UNLESS THERE IS A CHANGE IN THE ATTITUDE OF DECISION-MAKERS, SHEFFIELD STANDS TO LOSE ALMOST ALL ITS 25,877 MATURE HIGHWAY TREES as a result of disregard for current good practice when undertaking works in close proximity to trees. Firm Government guidance and adequate legislation is urgently required and long overdue.

      * NO2: a pollutant associated with road transport, resulting in increased heart and respiratory problems, and increased mortality rates.

      D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield.’

      Source:
      https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/698#comment-698

  2. Technotronic says:

    EXTRACTS FROM Cllr Fox’s Speech, as Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport, AT THE MEETING OF FULL COUNCIL ON 1st July, 2015:

    “And it’s also welcoming, Lord Mayor, that, as decision-makers in this Town Hall, we have our policies and procedures to scrutinise not by only by us in this place but scrutinised by the public…

    We had an independent survey done in 2006-2007 which HELPS US INFORM OUR PRIORITIES FOR THE FORMATION OF THE CONTRACT…

    THE PROCESS IS THAT AMEY MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO COUNCIL about which trees, in their expert opinion, should be removed by the highway, and in which categories.

    THE COUNCIL WILL THEN ASSESS EACH INDIVIDUAL TREE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEN MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER THAT TREE SHOULD BE FELLED OR NOT.

    Lord Mayor, sometimes WHEN WE plant and PLANE THE TOPS, WE IDENTIFY THAT WE HAVE ROOT PROBLEMS OR NOT, is if we have not then we obviously do not take that tree. TAKING THE TREE IS THE LAST RESORT, Lord Mayor.

    THE SHEFFIELD HIGHWAY TREE STRATEGY CONSISTS OF THE SIX D’s: dangerous; dead, dying, diseased, damaging and discriminatory.

    By incident, Lord Mayor, if I may, on to Rustlings Road. There are over thirty trees on Rustlings Road. … Out of the eleven that have been identified to be felled, three have been noticed, and that ONCE WE DIG UP THE PAVEMENT, as I say, ONCE WE TAKE THAT PLANING OFF, IF THEY CAN BE RETAINED, THEY WILL.

    I have said on numerous occasions that ONCE AMEY DESIGNATE THE TREES THEY WANT TO FELL, THE COUNCIL GO AND DO THEIR INDEPENDENT CHECKS. Lord Mayor, ANY FELLING OF A TREE IS A LAST RESORT.

    Other, not only cities in England, in Britain, but in Europe are watching how we manage this, Lord Mayor, and I’ve to do that; we have to take everybody with us. As I say, I believe, Lord Mayor, because this is such a delicate and in-depth debate, I’ve suggested the Council will endorse an Highways Tree Forum, where, as we have already heard, so MANY BIG ISSUES NEED TO BE TALKED THROUGH and, also, we are we are not – we are not – able to drive, forget the pun. OUR POLICY IS STILL THAT WE WANT TO CROSS-CHECK THEM, not only with methods in this place, but WITH LOCAL RESIDENTS AND LOCAL CONSERVATION GROUPS.

    Lord Mayor, I’D LIKE TO CONGRATULATE THESE, ERR, CAMPAIGNERS, RESIDENTS AND PEOPLE who feel very strongly about our city, BECAUSE WITHOUT THEM, Lord Mayor, WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO DELIVER OUR PROJECTS together.”

    Source:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/177#comment-177

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/update-on-sheffield-street-tree-issues/

    THE MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING THAT TOOK PLACE ON 1st JULY 2015 (when SORT presented their petition: 4,693 signatures online plus an additional >5,307 on paper), can be accessed at the following link, under the sub-heading “Minutes of Previous Council Meeting”:

    http://sheffielddemocracy.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=6016

    Questions about trees are on pages 8 & 9 of the PDF; the Council’s response can be found on pages 9-16.

    The SORT petition can be found here:

    https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield

    A redacted version of the petition is included in the Councils minutes – identical to the version presented in the “Public Document Pack” that was offered to all who attended the meeting.

    The pack “was a hand-out that claimed to present the SORT petition in its entirety. However, the Council had failed to include the references and the notation within the text that referred to them.

    The references validated the case presented – THEY WERE VITAL AND INTEGRAL TO THE PETITION. The Council’s decision to omit them may have stifled interest, skewed “debate” and voting, and have been severely damaging. The references provided a sound evidence base, in support of assertions made within the text. The references include peer reviewed research and widely recognised and accepted current best practice. PLEASE LET SORT KNOW WHO MADE THE DECISION TO REDACT THE PETITION AND WHY.”

    Source:

    Page 181 of the SORT LETTER (DATED 29TH JANUARY, 2016) that was distributed to EVERY COUNCILLOR in the city, by the Sheffield City Council Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department.

    You can access the SORT Letter via the following link:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    http://www.savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/resources-and-links/

  3. Technotronic says:

    GET LOST! THE COUNCIL DON’T CARE!

    Unfortunately, we have a very backward Labour Council that takes its advice on tree management from a private company with vested interests (Amey).

    IT TOOK OVER 4 MONTHS FOR THE COUNCIL TO RESPOND TO THE 140 PAGE LETTER (with 238 pages of appendices) from the Save Our Roadside Trees group (SORT), dated 29th January, 2016.

    The letter was addressed to Cllr Fox (the previous Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport: Cllr Lodge’s predecessor) & formed part of the Nether Edge petition hand-out (distributed to every Councillor in the city by the Council). On 16th June, 2016, a formal response from Cllr Lodge was received by SORT.

    NOTHING COULD SUM UP THE COUNCIL’S BACKWARD, RECKLESS, NEGLIGENT APPROACH TO TREE POPULATION MANAGEMENT BETTER THAN THIS RESPONSE.

    Here is the Council’s formal response to the 140 page letter, in its entirety:

    ****

    “From: Bryan.Lodge@sheffield.gov.uk
    To: SORT
    Subject: Re: Response to SORT letter?
    Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:19:14 +0000

    xxx,
    I have read your submission and noted the contents and your concerns.

    NO FURTHER RESPONSE WILL BE FORTHCOMING AS I FEEL THE POINTS WERE COVERED IN THE DECISION NOTICE FROM THE RECENT COURT CASE.

    Regards,
    CLLR BRYAN LODGE

    CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT”

    ****

    For those of you that are interested, the SORT LETTERS can be accessed via this link:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    Detail of Mr Dillner’s personal case in the High Court (London), can be found via these links:

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2016/945.html

    https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/dillner-v-scc-judgment.pdf

  4. Technotronic says:

    ITP SCAM

    EXTRACTS FROM THE SORT LETTER DATED 29th January, 2016*…

    “The HTAF [Highway Tree Advisory Forum] and Independent Tree Panel (ITP) should not be used as excuses not to take such prudent, rational, reasonable steps to prevent serious, irreversible environmental degradation.”
    (Page 44)

    “SORT do not approve of the council’s intention to only allow the Independent Tree Panel (ITP: see Appendix 23) to consider tree matters for cases where returned survey responses have been received by the council and, in number, have exceeded a threshold beyond which they qualify for presentation to and consideration by the ITP (McEwan, 2016; Appendix 2). SORT demand that the council abandon the survey and adopt a strategic approach to decision making and policy.

    The announcement of the proposal to form this new “Independent Tree Panel” (ITP) was as much of shock to SORT campaigners as your previous decision to have a Highway Tree Advisory Forum, and to elect yourself as Chairman and organiser. Not least of all because, in the case of both the formation of the proposals for an Independent Tree Panel and for the Highway Tree Advisory Forum, citizens and the representatives of key stakeholders were not offered, or given, any opportunity whatsoever for community involvement. There has been no opportunity whatsoever for community involvement and a total absence of information about your proposals prior to announcement. With matters of such importance, SORT expect there to be a programme of public education, consultation and opportunity for participation.”
    (Page 57)

    “To be absolutely clear, SORT DO NOT APPROVE OF THE FELLING SURVEY OR THE ITP. SORT HAVE NOT REQUESTED THESE STEPS. SUCH STEPS DO NOT ACCORD WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE AND WE URGE THAT THE COUNCIL ABANDON BOTH, WITHOUT DELAY, and opt to use the information that has been provided by SORT.”
    (Page 59)

    “At present, SORT do not believe that the HTAF or the ITP provide any meaningful opportunity whatsoever for people to influence decisions and affect change.
    […]

    Furthermore, we would like to emphasise that the ITP should not be used as a mechanism by the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport (you), or other officials, for avoiding opportunity for potentially meaningful face-to-face exchange of ideas, discussion and debate about the matters raised in SORT communications (Save Our Rustlings Trees, 2015 & 2015a). Also, see page 43, above.”
    (Page 63)

    “SORT are very much aware that the Council has used and intends to use meetings initiated at the request of SORT and other tree groups, as well as the “expert” panels (see pages 3 & 55-62, above) at the HTAF & ITP meetings, as a means of refusing any further access to information requested under the Freedom of Information Act (see Appendix 15). SORT believe this to be underhand; contrary to fostering community support, involvement and trust, and contrary to the achievement of openness, honesty, transparency, scrutiny, accountability and democracy. SORT believe that passing these meetings off as events where adequate, appropriate “scrutiny” has taken place is misleading and that the decision to deny access to information on the basis that adequate, appropriate “scrutiny” has happened is an abuse of the Freedom of Information Act, given the circumstances to date.”
    (Page 96)

    “SORT believe that it is both urgent and necessary that both the HTAF and the ITP each have a constitution. SORT request and advise that:

    1) HTAF and the ITP must each have a constitution: a draught constitution should be distributed to the representatives of key stakeholders for consultation, feedback and amendment, prior to being confirmed and adopted;

    2) Chairmen should be appointed by majority vote, by the representatives of key stakeholders: the Council must not be involved with the election of any Chairman, in any way whatsoever;

    3) a Chairman should not be a person with vested interests or bias with regard to the matters being approached;

    4) without an agreed and widely accepted constitution, the forum is extremely vulnerable to abuse and misuse, with significant, strong likelihood of misuse and abuse: there is no indication that an appropriate system with adequate protocols is in place to prevent these serious errors. If you have details of one, please supply SORT with full details;

    5) the HTAF and ITP should serve as an arena for the exchange of opinions and ideas between the representatives of key stakeholders and competent professionals with recognised education, knowledge, training and experience relevant to the matters being approached: at present, the HTAF is a badly organised question and response session between citizens and ‘experts’ on the panel, chosen by the Labour Council, without consultation with or approval of the representatives of key stakeholders. There is no opportunity for “meaningful” discussion or debate between ‘experts’ on the panel or between ‘experts’ and citizens.”
    (Page 62)

    “CREDIBILITY
    At present, SORT do not believe that the HTAF or the ITP provide any meaningful opportunity whatsoever for people to influence decisions and affect change. It does appear that the forum is just a convenient means for the Council to serve notification and appear to be involving communities, as opposed to being used as a platform for education, consultation and participation. Furthermore, we would like to emphasise that the ITP should not be used as a mechanism by the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport (you), or other officials, for avoiding opportunity for potentially meaningful face-to-face exchange of ideas, discussion and debate about the matters raised in SORT communications (Save Our Rustlings Trees, 2015 & 2015a). Also, see page 43, above.”
    (Page 62)

    “Furthermore, it is the opinion of SORT that information necessary for public participation has been consistently, deliberately and wilfully withheld from the public. Enquiries have been secretly converted by Streets Ahead to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests (e.g. FOI / 248 & FOI / 827), apparently just so that Streets Ahead could have the enquiries dismissed under the Freedom of Information Act as too costly to process, ‘vexatious’ and ‘manifestly unreasonable’(Beardmore, 2015r). See Appendix 15.”
    (Page 67)

    “The Streets Ahead team have repeatedly refused to provide information on plans, protocols, assessments, standards and methods used (see page 75 and Appendix 15). To date, no evidence has been provided of any steps taken by Streets Ahead to help ensure the preservation, protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources, despite repeated requests.

    In Freedom of Information request response FOI/423, Streets Ahead has admitted:

    ‘WE DO NOT CARRY OUT A RISK ASSESSMENT AS PART OF OUR REVIEW OF TREES.’

    This was in response to the request:

    ‘Under the FOI act, I request a copy of the risk assessment for the trees that are proposed to be felled on Rustlings Road please’.

    So, highway tree INSPECTORS DO NOT DO RISK ASSESSMENTS. They identify hazards. That does not mean that they do hazard assessments or risk assessments and risk analyses. Without balanced assessments, acts and omissions will not be defendable and are likely to be disproportionate, inadequate and unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions (The National Tree Safety Group, 2011).

    Section 154 of the Highways Act requires assessment of the tree CONDITION AND the LIKELIHOOD of danger, when assessing and considering management options for any tree that is DEAD, DISEASED, DAMAGED or insecurely rooted.”
    (Page 68)

    *The SORT letter dated 29th January, 2016 [1] formed part of the Nether Edge petition hand-out that was DISTRIBUTED TO EVERY COUNCILLOR in the city by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources) – on 1st February, 2016 – to encourage informed “debate” at the meeting of full Council, on 3rd February, 2016 ( about responsible, SUSTAINABLE tree population management) [2].

    1)
    The SORT Letters can be accessed via either of the following links:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    http://www.savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/resources-and-links/

    2)
    THE MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING THAT TOOK PLACE ON 3rd FEBRUARY, 2016 – when the Nether Edge tree action group presented their 6,295 plus signature petition – can be accessed at the following link, under the sub-heading “Minutes of Previous Council Meetings”:

    http://sheffielddemocracy.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=6022

    Questions about trees are on pages 6 & 7 of the PDF. A redacted version of the petition, followed by the Council’s response, can be found on pages 18 to 24.

    THE ITP IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PR SCAM TO COVER AND DISTRACT FROM THE COUNCIL’S RECKLESS AND NEGLIGENT ACTS AND OMISSIONS – THEIR MISTAKES.

    ******
    On 17th June, 2016, the Council admitted to: “wasteful litigation, the cost of which ends up being paid by council tax payers”. That is the tip of the iceberg! It has also wasted tens of thousands of pounds on the household felling survey, which can only be completed by households on streets where felling is scheduled, and it has wasted more money on the sham Independent Tree Panel (ITP), which will only consider oral evidence from residents on streets:

    “The Panel will determine what evidence it needs. This may include:

    • Results of the survey of households

    • Reports on individual trees

    • Oral evidence from residents of the street affected – the Panel will determine whether it wishes to receive oral evidence, although this will only be permissible from residents of the street(s) affected, and if so how it wishes to receive this evidence

    • Oral or written evidence from ourselves and/or Amey”

    Source:
    https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/in-your-area/report_request/trees/independent-tree-panel.html

    The Highway Tree Advisory Forum (HTAF), the felling survey and ITP were strongly opposed as inappropriate and inadequate by Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG). STAG just want compliance with current “industry” good practice.

  5. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO THE STAR

    TREE POPULATION MANAGEMENT BY NUMBERS (“Impact Assessment”)

    THE UNEDITED VERSION
    (An edited version was published in The Star on 8th August, 2016)

    “Usually, when the Council or Amey have something to say about the £2.2bn, city-wide, Streets Ahead highway maintenance PFI project, they mention the number of trees in the city and the number of trees planted. They then state that felling thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees is justified on the basis that one tree is planted for every tree felled, claiming that the work is necessary to avoid catastrophic losses over a short time period in the future – for the benefit of future generations.

    IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE LETTERS THAT THE SAVE OUR ROADSIDE TREES CITIZEN ACTION GROUP HAVE PUBLISHED (SEE: SAVESHEFFIELDTREES.ORG.UK), you PROBABLY believe the Council’s reasoning to be fair and their acts and omissions to be justified. In both cases, you would be wrong.

    Managing a tree population for the benefit of communities (PRESENT OR FUTURE) requires a responsible approach that has sustainability as a primary aim. “THE UK FORESTRY STANDARD (UKFS): THE GOVERNMENTS’ APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT” DEFINES WHAT A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH MUST BE. THE STANDARD APPLIES TO “ALL UK FOREST TYPES AND MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, INCLUDING THE COLLECTIVE TREE AND WOODLAND COVER IN URBAN AREAS.” IT DEFINES THE TERM “FOREST” AS “LAND UNDER STANDS OF TREES WITH A CANOPY COVER OF AT LEAST 20%”.

    Until 3rd February, 2016, the Council & Amey had always stated that there are over 2 million trees in the city. As of 3rd FEBRUARY, a figure of 4m has been repeatedly quoted. This is important because, previously, the Council claimed that the UKFS did not apply to the highway tree population. However, the Council have previously claimed that Sheffield is “10.4% woodland by area”.

    Jeremy Gunton is the Council’s Tree Officer; one of two men responsible for drafting the long awaited, much delayed first tree strategy for the city – now 8 months overdue. He explained to me that the figures were “just estimates”. He informed that the 4m figure includes 2.2m trees managed by the Council, with the remainder being an estimate of the number of trees in private ownership.

    Trees outside woodland – such as highway trees – have considerably larger crowns than trees in woodland, so they contribute significantly more to canopy cover. In light of the 10.4% claim, assuming it is reasonably accurate, it is reasonable to assume that the city’s canopy cover is likely to be OVER 30%. That means that Sheffield certainly does have an “urban forest” and that the highway tree population is a key component of the urban forest. The UKFS and its guidelines do apply to all tree populations within the urban forest and the UKFS requires that they be managed sustainably, THROUGH:

    ‘THE STEWARDSHIP AND USE OF FORESTS AND FOREST LANDS
    IN A WAY, AND AT A RATE, THAT MAINTAINS… THEIR
    POTENTIAL TO FULFIL, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE,
    RELEVANT ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL FUNCTIONS,
    AT LOCAL, NATIONAL, AND GLOBAL LEVELS..”

    These functions are fulfilled through the provision of a range of valuable ecosystem service benefits that canopy cover affords to the environment (neighbourhoods) and communities (including people). THE RANGE, MAGNITUDE AND VALUE OF THESE BENEFITS IS DEPENDENT ON THE SHAPE, SIZE AND DISTRIBUTION OF CANOPY COVER. The Streets Ahead plan, to fell up to half the population of highway trees (17,528 mature trees), will have REASONABLY FORESEEABLE, HIGHLY LIKELY, SIGNIFICANT, NEGATIVE IMPACTS. Over 3,800 mature highway trees have been felled since August 2012. It is not a sustainable approach. Contrary to a range of current good practice guidance and recommendations, the Streets Ahead team has neglected to account for these benefits in cost:benefit analyses or risk assessments. The necessity to have some form of adequate environmental impact assessment is self-evident and indisputable. LET’S HOPE THEY SEE SENSE BEFORE WE EXPERIENCE FURTHER SERIOUS DEGRADATION IN THE QUALITY OF OUR ENVIRONMENT.

    MANAGEMENT BY TREE NUMBERS IS INAPPROPRIATE AND CONTRARY TO CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE.”

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb)

    Source: https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/534#comment-534

    Also, see the latest guidance from the United Nations (UN):

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Salbitano, F; Borelli, S; Conigliaro, M; Chen, Y, 2016. FAO Forestry Paper 178: Guidelines on urban and peri-urban forestry. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
    Available at:
    http://www.fao.org/forestry/news/92439/en/

    • Technotronic says:

      THE UN SUPPORT URBAN FORESTRY IN SHEFFIELD

      “Guidelines on Urban and Peri-urban Forestry explains how cities can maximize the contribution of urban forests to addressing local and global sustainable development challenges, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, and human health and well-being.”
      […]
      ‘City planners and other urban decision-makers are often unaware of the crucial economic, social and environmental benefits that urban forests can provide, which means they are spending their budgets elsewhere,’ said FAO Forestry Officer Simone Borelli, one of the authors of the book. ‘In this publication we show them why MAKING URBAN FORESTS A PRIORITY AND “TURNING GREY TO GREEN” IS A WISE INVESTMENT THAT WILL IMPROVE MANY ASPECTS OF CITIZENS’ LIVES.’
      […]

      “WHAT IS AN URBAN FOREST?

      […]
      URBAN FORESTS CAN BE DEFINED AS NETWORKS OR SYSTEMS COMPRISING ALL WOODLANDS, GROUPS OF TREES, AND INDIVIDUAL TREES LOCATED IN URBAN AND PERI-URBAN AREAS; THEY INCLUDE, therefore, forests, STREET TREES, trees in parks and gardens, and trees in derelict corners. URBAN FORESTS ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, bridging rural and urban areas and ameliorating a city’s environmental footprint.
      […]

      Urban and peri-urban forestry (UPF) is THE PRACTICE OF MANAGING URBAN FORESTS TO ENSURE THEIR OPTIMAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PHYSIOLOGICAL, SOCIOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF URBAN SOCIETIES.
      UPF IS AN INTEGRATED, INTERDISCIPLINARY, PARTICIPATORY AND STRATEGIC APPROACH TO PLANNING AND MANAGING FORESTS AND TREES IN AND AROUND CITIES.
      It involves the assessment, planning, planting, maintenance, PRESERVATION and monitoring of urban forests, and it can operate AT SCALES RANGING FROM SINGLE TREES TO LANDSCAPES.
      […]

      At the community scale, UPF EMPHASIZES THE ENGAGEMENT OF URBAN CITIZENS IN THE STEWARDSHIP OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC TREES, INCLUDING BY EDUCATING THEM on the value and benefits of trees and forests AND SUPPORTING their full ownership and responsibility for the environment around them.

      WHY URBAN FORESTS?

      Forests in and around cities face many threats, such as those posed by unregulated urban development and a LACK OF INVESTMENT AND MANAGEMENT. Although it has been demonstrated that coherent investment in the establishment, protection and restoration of URBAN FORESTS CAN HELP CREATE A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT, such forests are often appreciated more for their aesthetic value than for their ecosystem functions.

      Mayors, planners and other urban DECISION-MAKERS ARE OFTEN UNAWARE OF THE CRUCIAL ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS THAT URBAN FORESTS CAN PROVIDE.”
      (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Salbitano, F. et al., 2016, p. 2)

      Reference:
      Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2016. FAO Forestry Paper 178: Guidelines on urban and peri-urban forestry. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
      Available online at:
      http://www.fao.org/forestry/news/92439/en/

      Also, see:
      https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/680#comment-680

  6. Technotronic says:

    SCC / AMEY: DECEIT & MISINFORMATION

    A LETTER TO SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH

    “The £2.2 billion, city-wide, 25yr Amey PFI contract for highway maintenance (the Streets Ahead project) permits the felling of 67.7% of MATURE highway trees – half the population of Sheffield’s 35,057 highway trees. Non-compliance with good practice could result in the felling of many more.

    At a meeting of full Council, on 1st July, 2015, the Deputy Leader of the Council (Cllr Leigh Bramall) stated:

    ‘Just before Streets Ahead, we had an independent survey done, erm, assessing all the trees across Sheffield, and it found that 70% were nearing the end of their life and 10,000 needed urgent attention. …Now, the contract says up to 50 % of trees can be removed, erm, and actually that’s 18,000.’

    The Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox) added:
    ‘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.’

    Commenting on the survey, Cllr Fox added: it “helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract” (the Amey PFI ).

    At a later meeting of full Council, on 3rd February, 2016, Cllr Bramall stated:

    ‘In 2006/7 an independent survey assessed the city’s highway tree stock. This survey found that over 75% of the city’s 36,000 trees were nearing the end of their natural life and only 5% of the trees were classed as being in the ‘young’ age group.’

    (Cllr Bramall also stated: “We have 36,000 highway trees on the street. The contract states that up to 50% can be replaced.”)

    These exact words later appeared in a document that SCC presented to the High Court of Justice (during R [Dillner] v Sheffield CC and Amey Hallam Highways Ltd), under the heading: “Streets Ahead Approach to decision making regarding highway tree removal and replacement”.

    The survey referred to is ‘Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007’. It was undertaken by Elliott Consultancy Ltd. I contacted Mr Elliott to enquire about the findings of the survey and to request a copy of the report: SORT had been requesting these from the Streets Ahead team for almost twelve months. Mr Elliott responded: “A formal report was not requested nor provided.” He added:

    ‘IF THERE WAS EVER ANY REQUEST FOR A FORMAL REPORT THEN WE WERE NOT AWARE OF IT – OUR ROLE WAS TO SURVEY THE STREET TREE STOCK AND PROVIDE THAT DATA TO THE ASSET MANAGEMENT COMPANY… THAT REALLY WAS OUR COMPLETE REMIT – NEITHER FORMAL MANAGEMENT OR A STRATEGIC ROLE.” He added: “I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PFI BID OR WITH ANY OF THE SUBSEQUENT SURVEYS, MANAGEMENT, OR STRATEGIC DISCUSSIONS’.

    Last week, Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) released a news update. It has caused a stir! SORT used a direct quote from Mr Elliott’s response to me:

    ‘Did I tell them they needed to remove half of their tree stock? NO.

    Did I tell them that 70% of the trees were nearing the end of their life? NO […]

    Did I even suggest that the 10,000 bits of tree work were ‘urgent’? NO –

    (you have seen the pp and IT WAS CLEARLY EXPLAINED THAT 25,000 TREES NEEDED NO WORK, and of that 10,000 almost half were routine crown-lifting operations, another quarter being deadwooding operations, and others including the whole gamut of routine works etc. (I DID SUGGEST TO THEM THAT THERE WERE A COUPLE OF HUNDRED TREES THAT COULD BE RETAINED BUT THEIR CONDITION WAS SUCH THAT THEY MAY MERIT REPLACEMENT – THIS WAS THE ONLY PRE-EMPTIVE FELLING ISSUE THAT I RECALL MENTIONING).’

    A copy of the ‘pp’ (PowerPoint slide show), mentioned above, can be accessed online, at Stocksbridge Community Forum (news). THERE APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN WILFUL ATTEMPTS BY SCC AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC AND THE HIGH COURT. Trust in the Council and in its credibility is at an all-time low. Openness honesty and transparency is long overdue. WHEN WILL THE COUNCIL BEGIN TO HONOUR THE POLICY COMMITMENT IT MADE ON 3RD FEBRUARY, 2016: ‘TO BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT WITH THE SHEFFIELD PUBLIC ENSURING ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN’?

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester), Sheffield.”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/683#comment-683

    *****

    NOTES:
    When commenting on the survey, Cllr Fox’s exact words (on 1st July 2015) were:

    “We had an independent survey done in 2006-2007 which helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract…”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/177#comment-177

    The “Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007” PowerPoint presentation (“pp”) that Elliott referred to can be accessed using this link:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/Elliott_SCC_Highway%20Tree%20Survey%202006-07.pdf

  7. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO THE STAR

    DECEIT & LIES (“Worthy of Trust?”)

    (published in The Star on 12th September, 2016)

    Are our elected representatives worthy of trust and of responsibility? Evidence indicates not.

    To date, Amey have felled over 3,800 mature highway trees. Amey are felling trees associated with damage to footways and kerbs. Cllr Leigh Bramall (Deputy Leader of the Council) has said that the £2.2bn Streets Ahead contract permits the felling of 50% of highway trees. Without compliance with current good practice, we stand to lose around 67.7% of MATURE highway trees, or as much as 73.8% of the highway tree population.

    In February, the Information Commissioner revealed that, over three and a half years in to the city-wide highway maintenance project, neither the Council or Amey have commissioned or drafted any alternative highway engineering SPECIFICATIONS for consideration as a means to retain trees. Felling is certainly not the “last resort” that the Council and Amey claim it is.

    A recent High Court case revealed that the “Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007”, undertaken by Elliott Consultancy Ltd, recommended that SCC adopt a tree strategy. It also stated that Sheffield has 35,057 highway trees and that there are: “25,000 highway trees requiring no work at present”. It recommended 1,000 trees for felling, plus 241 to be crown-reduced or felled. This is the survey that Cllr Fox (as Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport) stated: “helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract”.

    In June, 2015, the Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) Sheffield Tree Action Group gathered 10,000 signatures, calling for the Council to take reasonable steps to ensure that Amey retain healthy mature highway trees and safeguard against unnecessary avoidable damage during works in close proximity to them.

    SORT highlighted the need for the Council to honour its policy commitment (now 6yrs old) to have a tree strategy, noting that a report from 2008 (Trees in Towns 2), commissioned by the government, advised that local authorities “need to make this an immediate priority”.

    The 2nd September marked a year since the most recent meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Tree Advisory Forum (HTAF) when Cllr Fox promised that a tree strategy would be ready for November 2015, after previously saying March 2016. On 26th February, 2016, one of the two men draughting the strategy – Jerry Gunton (SCC’s Parks and Countryside Tree Manager) – revealed that work on a draught had not begun.

    On April 22nd, 2016, the other man – David Aspinall (SCC’s Woodlands Manager) – informed that a draught would be ready for public comment in June. In July, he then informed it would not be ready until “early autumn”, 2016.

    To date, the Council has neglected to honour the commitment it made on 3rd February: “TO BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT WITH THE SHEFFIELD PUBLIC ENSURING ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.”

    What chance is there for positive change?

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield.

    Note:
    THE 2006/2007 HIGHWAY TREE SURVEY undertaken by Elliott Consultancy Ltd can be accessed here:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    • Technotronic says:

      SCC / AMEY LIES & INCOMPETENCE

      AN E-MAIL ABOUT RUSTLINGS ROAD

      From: streetsahead
      To: XXX
      Sent: Friday, 1 MAY 2015, 15:20
      Subject: FW: Tree felling Rustlings Road S11 XXX

      Dear XXX

      Thank you for your email dated 1st May 2015 regarding Tree felling Rustlings Road.

      We have checked our records: on 29th April 2015 we spoke to XXX advising twelve out of thirty trees on Rustlings Road are scheduled to be removed and replaced prior to the road improvement works.

      ELEVEN OF THESE TREES ARE CAUSING DAMAGE TO THE SURROUNDING STRUCTURES WHICH CANNOT BE ADEQUATELY REPAIRED WITHOUT CAUSING IRREPARABLE DAMAGE TO THEIR ROOTS.

      […]

      AMEY RECOMMENDED the twelve trees to Sheffield City Council for removal and replacement for the reasons stated. THE COUNCIL HAVE AGREED AND GIVEN APPROVAL.

      […]

      XXX asked if this was the only option we had to remove the trees, and was advised that WE HAVE LOOKED INTO EVERY OPTION and we FEEL that removal is the best solution. However we will replace each tree that is removed will be replaced. XXX thanked us for the information and getting back to him.

      Follow us on twitter @sccstreetsahead

      Yours sincerely
      Customer Services

      *************

  8. Technotronic says:

    THE COUNCIL’S COMMITMENT TO RETAIN MATURE HIGHWAY TREES

    Extracts from the SORT Letter To The Cabinet Member For Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), dated 29th January, 2016:

    “In a letter dated 18th November, 2015 (see Appendix 7), David Caulfield (Director of Development Services: with overall responsibility for highway trees) stated:

    ‘…REMOVAL OF ANY HIGHWAY TREE IS ALWAYS THE LAST RESORT…’

    In an e-mail dated 17th December, 2015 (see Appendix 7), Mr Caulfield stated:

    ‘Clearly IF A SITE SPECIFIC OR BESPOKE SOLUTION CAN BE IDENTIFIED by either the Council or Amey’s arboricultural surveyors or highway engineers WHICH CAN BE APPLIED WITH REASONABLE PRACTICABILITY TO RETAIN A TREE THEN WE WOULD LOOK TO DO SO. …We like to think that as THE UK’S LARGEST HIGHWAYS PFI PROJECT…’ ”
    (From page 44)

    Steve Robinson gave a presentation at the second HTAF meeting, on 2nd September, 2015. He stated:

    “We are replacing about 70% of the City’s footways over the first five years. We have a duty to consider equalities. Now, in the past, existing TRIP HAZARDS have been left, and THE COUNCIL HAS A DEFENCE UNDER THE HIGHWAYS ACT – SECTION 58 DEFENCE UNDER THE HIGHWAYS ACT – of not having sufficient funding to deal with all those defects. IT NOW CAN’T HAVE THAT DEFENCE BECAUSE IT HAS FUNDING OF £2.2BN ON THE PFI PROJECT. So we must take in to account the consideration of the Equalities [sic] Act.”
    (From page 45)

    In an e-mail (Ref: 101002355831) dated 16th December, 2015 (see Appendix 11), Jeremy Willis (Amey) stated:

    “Unlike many other large UK cities, Sheffield is in a unique position and HAS THE FUNDING through the Streets Ahead project to upgrade its roads, pavements, street lights and streetscene. This also includes BETTER MAINTENANCE AND MANAGEMENT of the street trees.”
    ONE OF THE AIMS OF THE STREETS AHEAD PROJECT IS TO RETAIN HEALTHY TREES WHEREVER POSSIBLE…

    A NEW TREE CAN NEVER REPLACE A MATURE SPECIMEN…
    Please be assured that we are COMMITTED TO RETAINING, MAINTAINING and investing in the city’s tree stock for future generations”
    (From page 103)

    In a communication dated 7th July, 2015, the Department for Transport stated (see Appendix 3):

    “Local highway authorities, in your case Sheffield City Council, have a duty under Section 41 of the HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 to maintain the highways network in their area. THE ACT DOES NOT SET OUT SPECIFIC STANDARDS OF MAINTENANCE, as IT IS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL LOCAL HIGHWAY AUTHORITY TO ASSESS which parts of its network are in need of repair and WHAT STANDARDS SHOULD BE APPLIED, based upon their local knowledge and circumstances. Central Government has no powers to override local decisions in these matters.”
    (From page 46)

    On 23rd July, 2015, at the inaugural meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum, Steve Robinson (SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) commented:

    “The other three Ds – Diseased, Damaging and Discriminatory – there is a degree or, erm, of judgement to be taken on it. That word was used earlier. So, JUST BECAUSE A TREE IS DISEASED DOESN’T MEAN TO SAY THAT THAT TREE NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. It is the type of disease, the effect that disease will have on the tree’s life, err, whether it turns out to be dangerous, so on and so forth, and those judgements are made by tree people.

    Erm, THOSE TREE PEOPLE MAKE NO ACCOUNT OF PROFIT OR COST, so those factors do not come in to play. These are tree people who used to work for the Council. They have the same mind-set, now that THEY HAVE THEIR BUDGET TO LOOK AFTER THEIR TREES.

    In terms of damaging, yes, again, there is a degree of judgement and, erm, and, you know, if something can be done, IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED. Err, there was a lots [sic] of comment made earlier on about whether a tree is removed as a last resort; and a tree is removed as a LAST resort.”
    (From pages 42 & 43)

    *******************************

    The above quotes come from the SORT Letter To The Cabinet Member For Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), dated 29th January, 2016 was DISTRIBUTED TO EVERY COUNCILLOR by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources) – prior to the meeting of full council on 3rd February, 2016, as part of the Nether Edge Sheffield Tree Action Group petition hand-out.

    See: https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    ***************************

    On 23rd October, 2015, The Star reported:
    “Cllr Terry Fox, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said:

    ‘We have always said that WHERE IT IS POSSIBLE TO RETAIN A TREE, THIS IS WHAT WE WILL WORK HARD TO DO… we are serious about that commitment.’”

    On 20th June, 2016, The Star reported:

    “Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment, said:

    ‘IF WE CAN USE PRACTICABLE AND AFFORDABLE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS TO RETAIN TREES, THEN WE WILL LOOK TO DO THAT.’”

    Source:
    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/axe-might-stop-for-12-city-trees-1-7973228

  9. Technotronic says:

    ALL MATURE STREET TREES FACE THE AXE

    Recently, I received the following contribution from an Arboriculturist (Mr D.Long):

    “On 23rd September, 2016, I sent an e-mail to various key policy makers and decision makers within Sheffield City Council*. Only SIMON GREEN (SCC Executive Director of the Council’s Place Management Team: responsible for Highways and Planning) responded, presumably on behalf of all. One of my criticisms was:

    “The £2.2bn Amey PFI contract allows Amey to fell 50% of the highway tree population: 67.7% of mature highway trees. Mature trees account for 73.8% of the highway tree population: 25,877 trees. They are the trees most susceptible to ill health and compromised structural integrity as a result of Amey’s neglect to comply with the range of current good practice they claim to comply with & aim to “build on” when undertaking works to and in close proximity to trees.

    Most mature highway trees are likely to be associated with damage to kerbs & footways. Amey and Sheffield City Council are over four years in to the Amey PFI Streets Ahead highway maintenance project: a £2.2bn, city-wide project, largely funded by taxpayers: up to £1.2bn from the DfT & around 80% of the remainder provided by SCC – no doubt, much of it in the form of expensive loans from banks. However, BOTH AMEY AND SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL HAVE NEGLECTED TO COMMISSION OR DRAUGHT ANY ALTERNATIVE HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION FOR USE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO FELLING.

    By neglecting to commission or draught any alternative highway engineering specifications, it is not possible for Amey or Sheffield City Council to fulfil their policy commitment to ensure that felling mature highway trees is a “last resort”, only done when “absolutely necessary”. Without such specifications, there is no evidence to support such claims. AMEY ARE FELLING THOUSANDS OF HEALTHY, STRUCTURALLY SOUND, MATURE HIGHWAY TREES BECAUSE NO ALTERNATIVE HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS HAVE BEEN COMMISSIONED AND DRAUGHTED. Most trees are scheduled for felling because Amey predict that their damaging working practices will cause such severe damage that the trees will become infected by pathogens and structural integrity will become so compromised that felling will be the most sensible step to take [1].”

    *****

    THE RESPONSE FROM SIMON GREEN (Dated 5th OCTOBER, 2016), TO THIS CRITICISM WAS:

    “There are 25 engineering options available to retain a tree that is causing damage. THE COUNCIL HAS NOT NEEDED TO COMMISSION ANY ALTERNATIVE ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS as they represent a comprehensive collection of different solutions to different situations.”

    *****

    Please remember that the assertion by the Streets Ahead team (Amey & Sheffield City Council) that this list of 25 ideas represents a set of engineering specifications was investigated and firmly rejected by the Information Commissioner. The list of 25 ideas can be accessed here:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/205#comment-205

    The list initially only consisted of 20 ideas. Those were read out at the meeting of full Council, by the Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), on 1st July, 2015, when the Save Our Roadside Trees SORT Sheffield Tree Action Group presented the >10,000 signature petition (4,693 signatures online, plus >5,307 on paper):

    https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield/u/18390599

    The list was cobbled together by the Streets Ahead team, following a period during June 2015 during which the Streets Ahead team invited residents to submit suggestions that may enable the retention of mature street trees during highway maintenance works (in particular resurfacing & edging).

    *****

    ON 6th JULY 2015, A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) REQUEST WAS SUBMITTED (FOI/422):

    “Under the FOI act, I request the SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE RANGE OF OPTIONS that were considered and deemed to be impracticable, for the 11 healthy trees due for felling on Rustlings Road.”

    Sheffield City Council’s Information Management Officer (Mark Knight) responded, on 22nd July 2015, but neglected to provide the information requested. The Information Commissioner (IC) investigated (Case Ref: FS50596905). On 19th February 2016 – over three years in to the £2.2bn, city-wide “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project – the IC confirmed, that no alternative highway engineering specifications for footway or kerb construction, etc. have ever been commissioned or draughted by Amey or SCC. Furthermore, the IC confirmed that the Council’s list of ideas – the “engineering options /solutions” do not represent engineering specifications. The IC stated:

    “The Commissioner does however note that THE COUNCIL DID NOT MAKE CLEAR THAT THE SPECIFIC INFORMATION REQUESTED WAS NOT HELD and that the list provided was in terms of relevant associated information to aid your request. As such, the council has breached regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 by not providing an adequate refusal notice citing exception 12(4)(a) “it does not hold that information when an applicant’s request is received”.
    […]

    …the council has now confirmed to you that NO INFORMATION IS HELD WITHIN THE SCOPE OF YOUR REQUEST and has provided you with information related to your request.”

    *****

    ON 3rd AUGUST, 2015 SORT SUBMITTED ANOTHER FOI REQUEST (FOI / 582):

    “PLEASE PROVIDE COPIES OF ALL DETAILED HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATION/S DOCUMENTS that detail the highway engineering specification/s considered for the construction and for the resurfacing of pavements (including kerbs) that have existing, long-established trees, to enable the safe, long-term retention of such trees.

    PLEASE ALSO PROVIDE THE REASON/S WHY EACH DETAILED HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATION/S DOCUMENT WAS REJECTED AND ITS CONTENT DEEMED TO BE IMPRACTICABLE for pavements and kerbs on Rustlings Road, Sheffield .”

    THE REQUEST WAS REFUSED BY THE SCC INFORMATION MANAGEMENT OFFICER (MARK KNIGHT), ON 7TH AUGUST 2015.

    The Officer commented: “request marries to earlier FOI 422” and dismissed it under the FOI Act, as too costly to comply with, “manifestly unreasonable”, “vexatious” and “futile”. He asserted that the request represented a “Burden on the Authority” (“grossly oppressive in terms of the strain on time and resources”); “unreasonable persistence”, and “unfounded accusations”:

    “BURDEN ON THE AUTHORITY

    THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER’S GUIDANCE NOTES:

    ‘The effort required to meet the request will be so grossly oppressive in terms of the strain on time and resources, that the authority cannot reasonably be expected to comply, no matter how legitimate the subject matter or valid the intentions of the requester.’

    The Council is aware that your FOI requests relate specifically to the removal of trees within Rustlings Road in Sheffield and subsequently as your interest has expanded this has expanded to the wider impact of tree removal within the city and the development of a City wide tree strategy. ALL THE FOI REQUESTS DETAILED ABOVE CAN BE LINKED TO THE INITIAL CONCERNS AROUND THE REMOVAL OF TREES IN RUSTLINGS ROAD. We are aware that there is a strong public interest in the removal of the trees as highlighted in the petition submitted to Full Council on Wednesday 1st July 2015. We are also aware of your membership of the SORT (Save Our Rustling Trees) campaign group and the efforts made to raise awareness of your campaign and the effort to cease the removal of a number of trees on the road.

    However, THE COUNCIL MUST CONSIDER THE BURDEN OF THESE OUTSTANDING REQUESTS, YOUR PREVIOUS REQUESTS AND FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE ON THE COUNCIL. The Council has already completed a range of responses to your requests for information. We have already exceeded the cost threshold for dealing with FOIA requests and have taken part in a range of engagement activities outside of FOIA in order to MAINTAIN TRANSPARENCY IN THE DECISION MAKING for these removals.

    UNREASONABLE PERSISTENCE

    THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER’S GUIDANCE NOTES:

    ‘The requester is attempting to reopen an issue which has already been comprehensively addressed by the public authority, OR OTHERWISE SUBJECTED TO SOME FORM OF INDEPENDENT SCRUTINY.’

    The Council has confirmed its intentions and position on the removal of trees on Rustlings Road. This matter has been DISCUSSED AT FULL COUNCIL TOGETHER WITH THE TREE ADVISORY FORUM, set up as a result of the interest in this matter. The public and panellists are able to bring their questions to the Highway Tree Advisory Forum where they can be shared and POTENTIALLY DISCUSSED in a public arena.

    UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS

    Although THERE ARE NO SPECIFIC ACCUSATIONS IN THE REQUEST PER SE, there are elements of your requests with suggest a concern over the competency of the Council its supplier (Amey) and our staff. There appears to be particular concern around the educational background of arborists with the Council and Amey where this is a non-issue IN REGARD TO THE REMOVALS OF TRESS ON RUSTLINGS ROAD. THEY ARE BEING REMOVED DUE TO DAMAGE TO THE FOOTWAY and not the health of the trees themselves. There have also been accusations regarding the procurement and our appointment of a PFI Contractor.”

    To help, the Information Management Officer provided the following:

    “Section 14 Vexatious Request (FOIA) / Regulation 12 Manifestly Unreasonable (EIR)

    The Information Commissioners Office, who oversee compliance with the Freedom of Information Act do not define what is Vexatious (FOIA) or Manifestly Unreasonable (EIR), but they provide detailed guidance about how to recognise such requests and how to deal with them. This guidance can be found on the internet links below:

    DEALING WITH VEXATIOUS REQUESTS (SECTION 14) –

    https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1198/dealing-with-vexatious-requests.pdf

    MANIFESTLY UNREASONABLE REQUESTS -REGULATION 12(4)(B)

    https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1615/manifestly-unreasonable-requests.pdf“”

    “FUTILE REQUESTS

    THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER’S GUIDANCE NOTES:

    “The issue at hand individually affects the requester and has already been conclusively resolved by the authority OR SUBJECTED TO SOME FORM OF INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION.”

    As noted above your requests relate to the felling of trees on Rustlings Road and associated correspondence and the campaign to stop this process, within which you are actively involved. WE HAVE NOTED THAT THE DECISION HAS BEEN RATIFIED BY FULL COUNCIL.

    THE COUNCIL HAS BEEN CLEAR THAT THE REMOVAL OF THESE TREES WILL NOW LEAD TO A REPLANTING above and beyond a one for one replacement ratio on the road.”

    *****************************************************

    * The communication dater 23rd September, 2016 was addressed to Councillor LODGE (SCC Cabinet Member for the Environment), Cllr BRAMALL (Deputy Leader of the Council), other Councillors, Messrs MOTHERSOLE (SCC’s Chief Executive), GREEN and CAULFIELD (Director of Development Services: with overall responsibility for highway trees).

    Recipients included:

    john.mothersole@sheffield.gov.uk
    simon.green
    @sheffield.gov.uk
    julie.dore@sheffield.gov.uk
    bryan.lodge@sheffield.gov.uk
    tony.downing@sheffield.gov.uk
    leigh.bramall@sheffield.gov.uk
    anne.murphy@sheffield.gov.uk
    Terry.Fox2@sheffield.gov.uk *
    jayne.dunn@sheffield.gov.uk *
    jack.scott@sheffield.gov.uk *
    angela.smith.mp@parliament.uk
    nickclegg@sheffieldhallam.org.uk

    *ALL PREVIOUS CABINET MEMBERS WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIGHWAYS DURING THE £2.2 bn AMEY PFI CONTRACT

    nasima.akther@sheffield.gov.uk
    cllr.richard.crowther@gmail.com
    keith.davis@sheffield.gov.uk
    roger.davison@sheffield.gov.uk
    jackie.drayton@sheffield.gov.uk
    neale.gibson@sheffield.gov.uk
    editor@jpress.co.uk
    shaffaq.mohammed@sheffield.gov.uk
    joe.otten@sheffield.gov.uk
    peter.price@sheffield.gov.uk
    sheffieldtreesactiongroup@yahoo.co.uk
    sarahjane.smalley@sheffield.gov.uk
    alison.teal@sheffield.gov.uk

    Also, on 31st October, 2016, the same recipients received the communication again. In addition, it was also sent to the following:

    miriamcates.bpc@gmail.com
    jack.clarkson@sheffield.gov.uk
    mazher.iqbal@sheffield.gov.uk
    mary.lea@sheffield.gov.uk
    steve.robinson@sheffield.gov.uk

    clive.betts.mp@parliament.uk
    paul.blomfield.mp@parliament.uk
    louise.haigh.mp@parliament.uk

    SOURCE:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/693#comment-693

  10. Technotronic says:

    SHEFFIELD: ECO-DESTRUCTION

    THE AMEY PFI CONTRACT PERMITS AMEY TO FELL 67.7% OF SHEFFIELD’S MATURE HIGHWAY TREES.

    AMEY’s COMMENTS ON THE TOPIC OF DAMAGE CAUSED TO TREES DURING HIGHWAY RESURFACING WORKS:

    On 23rd July, 2015, at the inaugural meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Trees Advisory Forum (which has not met since the second meeting: 2nd September, 2015),

    DARREN BUTT (OPERATIONS DIRECTOR FOR AMEY) commented:

    “The majority of, err, tree roots are actually in the upper sixty mill of the, err, of the surface and therefore REMOVING THE TOP LAYER WILL REMOVE AND BE EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL TO THOSE TREES. I appreciate the problem. This gentleman’s trees were surviving well; the trouble is, when you see them in absolute blossom, and they are green, you think they’re safe and will continue to thrive, which is sometimes, can be, almost a pinnacle before THEY FAIL. So, hopefully, your tree doesn’t, but, err, THAT DOES HAPPEN.”

    Most trees that Amey have scheduled for felling are healthy and structurally sound. The main reason for felling appears to be (see Appendix 22 & Appendix 25 of the SORT letter dated 29th January, 2016*):

    “DUE TO DAMAGE TO THE PAVEMENT OR ROAD”

    Before Amey took its felling lists offline in autumn 2015, to re-word the reasons given for felling (possibly after realising that they represented evidence of non-compliance with the guidance they claimed to comply with and aimed to “build on”), common reasons included*:

    “…LIKELY TO BE DAMAGED upon reconstruction”

    “…WILL BE DAMAGED upon reconstruction”;

    “…WILL BE DAMAGED upon planing off”;

    “…CANNOT REPAIR WITHOUT ROOT DAMAGE”;

    “Kerbs absent, UNABLE TO INSTALL/REPAIR WITHOUT SEVER [sic] ROOT DAMAGE”

    “Kerbs pushed into c/w by buttress root pressing immediately on kerb rear – CANNOT REALIGN”;

    “…root growing into and uplifting f/w at shallow depth – WILL BE DAMAGED UPON RECONSTRUCTION.”

    Many healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees are scheduled for felling on the basis that the USE OF MOWERS, STRIMMERS AND MACHINERY USED IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO TREES DURING RESURFACING WORKS, SUCH AS DIGGERS AND THE PLANING MACHINES, will cause damage of such severity that that tree health and structural integrity will be compromised to such extent that the only reasonable option is to fell the trees. This appears to be one of Amey’s primary reasons for felling.

    The team responsible for the £2.2bn Streets Ahead project (SCC & Amey) have even prescribed felling on the basis that mowers or excavations by Streets Ahead operatives could damage roots and lead to the same consequences.

    DAMAGE CAN BE MINIMISED OR AVOIDED. MATURE TREES CAN BE SAFELY RETAINED, LONG-TERM, THROUGH COMPLIANCE WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE GUIDANCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS (TDAG; BS5837 & NJUG) that exists to minimise the likelihood and severity of such damage.

    *****

    NOTES:

    *From the SORT letter dated 29th January, 2016. SORT letters can be accessed here:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    The letter formed part of the Nether Edge petition hand-out that was DISTRIBUTED TO EVERY COUNCILLOR in the city (on 1st February, 2016), by SCC, prior to the meeting of full Council on 3rd February, 2016 (A).

    A) THE MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING THAT TOOK PLACE ON 3rd FEBRUARY, 2016 – when the Nether Edge tree action group presented their 6,295 plus signature petition – can be accessed at the following link, under the sub-heading “Minutes of Previous Council Meetings”:

    http://sheffielddemocracy.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=6022

    Questions about trees are on pages 6 & 7 of the pdf; a redacted version of the petition, followed by the Council’s response, can be found on pages 18 to 24. The document is of interest because the meeting on the 3rd February, 2016 is the meeting at which the Council, “resolved” to:

    “COMMIT TO BE OPEN AND TRANSPARENT WITH THE SHEFFIELD PUBLIC IN ENSURING ALL OUR INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.”

    IT WAS AT THIS MEETING THAT THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL (CLLR JULIE DORE: LABOUR) STATED THAT THE COUNCIL WAS ENTITLED TO TREAT ANY QUESTION THEY RECEIVE AS A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) request and then send it to the Information Management Officer to be dealt with. For further detail, see:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/653#comment-653

  11. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO THE STAR:

    “Over several months, the Council have repeatedly, falsely claimed to have used Flexi®-Pave to retain healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees. Flexi®-Pave is a product that can be used when resurfacing footways, as an alternative to tarmac. The key benefit is that when tree parts thicken – as they do each year – the product flexes rather than cracks, unlike tarmac. For this reason, it has been widely used elsewhere in other cities, to retain mature highway trees. A letter appeared in last Thursday’s Sheffield Telegraph (21st July, 2016), written by someone claiming to be an “independent arboriculturist”. I believe he is a sub-contractor on the city-wide, £2.2bn Streets Ahead highway maintenance project, working for the main contractor: Amey.

    I was shocked and appalled by the implication that the slightest wound on a tree would be likely to result in “rapid decline” of the tree. For a tree, its bark is like skin; the wood is like flesh. Just like an animal, if wounded, in theory, the organism can become infected and a disease could result that could lead to death. However, like animals, plants have evolved ways of resisting infection and limiting its spread. It is why trees can receive multiple wounds when pruned, attacked by herbivores, otherwise damaged, and remain strong, healthy and safe. Trees have also evolved ways of compensating for any decay, by reducing crown size and, through incremental growth, adding layers of biomechanically optimised wood, known as reaction wood. This strengthens affected regions and can compensate for cross-sectional loss; it is what enables plant parts to have a safety factor greater than that of most mammal bones. It is why you see many trees with large wounds or cavities (great for wildlife) and yet they remain perfectly healthy and their parts do not fail.

    Most people involved with tree care in Sheffield do not fulfil the British Standard requirements necessary to qualify as competent arboriculturists. An arboriculturist is defined (by BS 5837) as:

    “PERSON WHO HAS, THROUGH RELEVANT EDUCATION, TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE, GAINED EXPERTISE IN THE FIELD OF TREES IN RELATION TO CONSTRUCTION”.

    Only a small handful of people in Sheffield meet these criteria. An education and training deficit leads to misunderstanding and inappropriate comments, as well as bad policy and bad decisions that are not soundly based on available evidence, but: “unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions, whether formed by the media or vested interests.”

    Provided Streets Ahead contractors comply with the current, widely accepted, nationally recognised good practice guidance and recommendations that they claim to comply with and aim to “build on” (e.g. BS5837 and guidance published by the National Joint Utilities Group and Trees & Design Action Group), there is no reason why mature highway trees cannot be safely retained, long-term, by use of products like Flexi®-Pave. An air-spade can be used to excavate around roots and avoid wounding.

    The Council & Amey repeatedly state that felling is a “last resort” and that they are willing to consider all other options to retain mature highway trees. However, on 19/2/2016, the Information Commissioner completed an investigation (Case Ref: FS50596905) which revealed that, over 3yrs in to the £2.2bn city-wide Streets Ahead project, neither Amey or the Council had ever commissioned or draughted any alternative highway engineering specifications for footway, edging (kerb) or drain construction for consideration as an alternative to felling, as a means to enable the safe long-term retention of valuable mature highway trees, and the range of valuable ecosystem service benefits they afford to the environment and communities each year. This revelation confirmed that felling is certainly not the “last resort” and that the Streets Ahead team have a long way to go before they can rightfully claim to comply with current good practice.

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield.”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/533#comment-533

    *****
    Also, see:
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/clr_fox_tree_retention_solutions#comment-69476

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-tree-campaigners-question-council-flexi-paving-figures-1-8012728

  12. Technotronic says:

    THE COUNCIL AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM HAVE EXISTING POLICY COMMITMENTS, TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE. See below.

    In an e-mail (Ref: 101002358788) dated 8th January, 2016 (Appendix 19), sent in response to a complaint made on 9th December, 2015 (Appendix 19), STREETS AHEAD Customer Services stated:

    “THE STREETS AHEAD PROJECT AIMS TO WORK TO BEST INDUSTRY PRACTISE AND GUIDELINES in all working sectors, including when working in the vicinity of highway trees.”

    “In fact, we intend to expand the concept with a series of workshops starting in January 2016 looking at improving our processes and BUILDING ON industry good practise.”

    On 8th July, 2015, STREETS AHEAD team stated:

    “all works will be supervised by a qualified arboriculturalist [sic] TO ENSURE NO TREE ROOT DAMAGE OCCURS as part of our works. The Streets Ahead team work to National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) regulations AND RELEVANT BRITISH STANDARDS for construction works in the vicinity of trees”.

    On 8th December, 2015, Cllr TERRY FOX (Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport) stated:

    “I can confirm that Amey’s ARBORICULTURAL METHOD STATEMENT exists TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH BOTH BS 5837 AND NJUG STANDARDS.”

    In a communication dated 8th January, 2016, with regard to works to and in close proximity to highway trees, Mr DAVID CAULFIELD (SCC Executive Director: see The Star report: “TREES: New council chief to lead Sheffield felling confirmed after secret recording apology”) responded to the question: “Can you provide evidence of the use of National BEST Practice?”. His response was:

    “YES, WE CAN EVIDENCE USE OF NBP ACROSS THE WHOLE CONTRACT”

    The response to Freedom of Information request FOI / 574, dated 7th August, 2015 (“Please provide a copy of the current national highway maintenance standards, guidance and recommendations that the Streets Ahead project claim to be using and working in accordance with; please also provide an online link to these standards.”), stated:

    “Highways maintenance standards and REQUIREMENTS ARE DICTATED BY A NUMBER OF PIECES OF BOTH INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICE (for example the Well-Maintained Highways Code of Practice for highway maintenance management – http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/UKRLG-and-boards/uk-roads-board/wellmaintained-highways.cfm ).

  13. Technotronic says:

    GOOD PRACTICE GUIDANCE

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Salbitano, F; Borelli, S; Conigliaro, M; Chen, Y, 2016. FAO Forestry Paper 178: Guidelines on urban and peri-urban forestry. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
    Available at: http://www.fao.org/forestry/news/92439/en/

    The British Standards Institution, 2010. British Standard 3998:2010 Tree Work – Recommendations. London: BSI Standards Ltd.

    The British Standards Institution, 2012. British Standard 5837:2012 Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations”. London: BSI Standards Ltd.

    “EXTRACTS FROM British Standard 5837”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/632#comment-632
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/634#comment-634

    “ROOT PROTECTION”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/633#comment-633

    The British Standards Institution, 2014. British Standard 8545:2014 Trees: From Nursery to Independence in the Landscape – Recommendations, London: BSI Standards Ltd.
    http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/leisure/countryside/WhiteRoseForest/pdf/treesFromNurseryToIndependenceInTheLandscape.pdf

    “STRATEGY: BRITISH STANDARD 8545”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/641#comment-641

    Britt, C., Johnston, M., Riding, A., Slater, J., King, H., Gladstone, M., McMillan, S., Mole, A., Allder, C., Ashworth, P., Devine, T., Morgan, C., Martin, J. et al., 2008. Trees in Towns 2: a new survey of urban trees in England and their condition and management. London: Department for Communities and Local Government. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Johnston8/publications

    For useful extracts, see:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/published-after-wait-14-months-sheffields-first-draught-tree-strategy-available-public-comment

    “STRATEGY: ADVICE FROM THE GOVERNMENT’S TREES IN TOWNS 2 REPORT”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/642#comment-642

    “STRATEGY: TREES IN TOWNS 2 ‘KEY RECOMMENDATIONS'”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/642#comment-642

    National Joint Utilities Group, 2007a. Volume 4: NJUG Guidelines For The Planning, Installation And Maintenance Of Utility Apparatus In Proximity To Trees (Issue 2). [Online] Available at: http://www.njug.org.uk/publications/ [Accessed 20 March 2014].

    National Joint Utilities Group, 2007b. Volume 4: NJUG Guidelines For The Planning, Installation And Maintenance Of Utility Apparatus In Proximity To Trees (Issue 2) – Operatives Handbook. [Online] Available at: http://www.njug.org.uk/publications/ [Accessed 20 March 2014].

    Roads Liaison Group, 2013. Well-maintained Highways – Code of Practice. [Online] Available at: http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm?docid=C7214A5B-66E1-4994-AA7FBAC360DC5CC7 [Accessed 23 June 2015].

    “EXTRACTS FROM WELL-MAINTAINED HIGHWAYS – CODE OF PRACTICE”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/630#comment-630

    Roads Liaison Group, 2013. Well-Lit Highways – Tracked Changes [Online] Available at:
    http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm?docid=2B75EC40-0A6F-4BE2-884C6F53ECAEC87B

    “EXTRACTS FROM WELL-LIT HIGHWAYS – TRACKED CHANGES”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/631#comment-631

    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

    “RISK & LIABILITY”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/635#comment-635

    Trees and Design Action Group, 2012. Trees in the Townscape: A Guide for Decision Makers. [Online] Available at: http://www.tdag.org.uk/trees-in-the-townscape.html [Accessed 27 June 2012].

    Trees and Design Action Group, 2014. Trees in Hard Landscapes: A Guide for Delivery. [Online] Available at: http://www.tdag.org.uk/trees-in-hard-landscapes.html [Accessed 25 January 2015].

    The Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG)Recommendations:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/637#comment-637
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/638#comment-638

  14. Technotronic says:

    ARBORICULTURAL ASSOCIATION REBUKE SCC & AMEY

    “THE ARBORICULTURAL ASSOCIATION COMMENT ON THE HANDLING OF THE FELLING OF TREES ON RUSTLINGS ROAD AND THE COUNCIL’S TREE MANAGEMENT POLICY.”

    “Street Trees in Rustlings Road, Sheffield

    Last Updated: 24/11/2016

    The Council have a legal responsibility to remove trees which are in a seriously diseased or dangerous condition. The removal of trees which are not dangerous but are merely seen to be “damaging” (to the pavement or nearby walls) or “discriminatory” (causing alleged obstruction to people with visual or physical impairments) has to be questioned. WE WOULD HOPE THAT ALL ALTERNATIVES TO REMOVAL WOULD HAVE BEEN FULLY CONSIDERED AND EXPLAINED TO ALL STAKEHOLDERS BEFORE ANY ACTION WAS TAKEN.

    FURTHERMORE, WE REITERATE THE IMPORTANCE OF COUNCILS, LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND ANYONE WITH TREES UNDER THEIR STEWARDSHIP TO STRIVE FOR AND ADVOCATE THE SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF TREES, as well as highlighting the need for clear lines of communication and collaboration between all relevant parties before such crucial decisions are made.”

    SOURCE:
    http://www.trees.org.uk/News-Blog/News/Street-Trees-in-Rustlings-Road,-Sheffield

    *****

    “Speaking at the Arboricultural Association National Amenity Conference, Lord de Mauley, PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE has recognised the Association as the representative body for the tree care profession and ‘THE VOICE OF ARBORICULTURE’.”
    (Arboricultural Association, 2014)

    *****

    PREVIOUSLY…

    “…we are unable to comment on Sheffield in any specific way, but… WE ARE …CONCERNED AT THE LEVEL OF UNNECESSARY TREE LOSS THAT MAY RESULT FROM OVER-ZEALOUS INTERPRETATIONS OF HIGHWAY MANAGEMENT STANDARDS.

    The AA position on trees in streets closely reflects the very strong research evidence and government guidance that trees MUST be properly and fairly accounted for in the urban management decision-making process.

    THE RECENT LONDON I-TREE PROJECT VALUED LONDON’S STREET TREES AT £6 BILLION and identifies and quantifies the wider benefits they bring (eco system services) in respect of storm water alleviation, carbon storage and pollution removal. This report clearly demonstrates that in the light of the benefits that trees bring, THERE CAN BE NO CREDIBLE CASE TO ADOPT AN AUTOMATIC PRESUMPTION TO REMOVE TREES CAUSING LOW LEVELS OF DAMAGE TO INFRASTRUCTURE.

    …the Arboricultural Association would urge all managers involved in this sphere to appreciate the importance of trees in streets, and particularly their beneficial effects on human wellbeing and health, flood buffering and their ability to make urban environments more pleasant places to live and work. WE ACTIVELY ADVOCATE THAT when tree removal is being considered, in addition to the maintenance costs associated with the presence of street trees, the BENEFITS ARE ALSO PROPERLY FACTORED INTO THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS. THIS PARTICULARLY APPLIES TO INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGE, WHERE THE HIGHWAYS GUIDANCE CLEARLY IMPLIES THAT A FLEXIBLE AND BALANCED ASSESSMENT IS REQUIRED.”
    (Barrell, 2016a)

    *****

    “The Arboricultural Association has in its members a wealth of knowledge about the practical aspects of planting and caring for trees…”
    (Framlingham, 2015)

    *****

    “ABOUT US:

    AS THE LEADING VOICE ON ALL MATTERS ARBORICULTURAL IN THE UK, the AA provides a home and membership for all those employed within the sector; championing the SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT of trees in places where people live work and play – FOR THE BENEFIT OF SOCIETY.

    We provide the standards, training, support and recognition that put our members – in the UK and overseas – at the peak of their profession.”

    Source:
    http://www.trees.org.uk/About-Us

    *****

    REFERENCES:

    (FROM THE SORT LETTER dated 29th January, 2016:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/SORT%20LETTER%20TO%20THE%20CABINET%20MEMBER%20FOR%20ENVIRONMENT%20AND%20TRANSPORT_29th%20January%2C%202016_v51.6_Corrected_1.pdf )

    ***
    Arboricultural Association, 2014. Defra recognizes Arboricultural Association as the ‘Voice of Arboriculture’. [Online]
    Available at:
    http://www.trees.org.uk/aa/news/Defra-recognizes-Arboricultural-Association-as-the-Voice-of-Arboriculture-323.html [Accessed 25 September 2014].

    ***
    Barrell, 2016a. Jeremy Barrell comments on the Sheffield Street Trees issue. [Online]
    Available at:
    http://www.trees.org.uk/News-Blog/News/Jeremy-Barrell-comments-on-the-Sheffield-Street-Tr [Accessed 18 January 2016].

    ***
    Framlingham, M., 2015. Queen’s Speech — Debate (4th Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:24 pm on 2nd June 2015: House of Lords Debate (c381). [Online]
    Available at:
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2015-06-02a.298.8&s=speaker%3A10370#g381.0 [Accessed 4 June 2015].

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