George Monbiot addresses the Sheffield street tree issues…….

George Monbiot addresses the Sheffield street tree issues…….

As a jpg or as a pdf:

 

Balanced and thoughtful, and as so often the case – incisive! 

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6 Responses to George Monbiot addresses the Sheffield street tree issues…….

  1. Technotronic says:

    • 7th NOVEMBER 2017

    FLEXI PAVE – SCC / AMEY MISINFORMATION, DECEIT & INCOMPETENCE

    What follows is a posting from the Facebook page of Sheffield Tree Action Groups. Ever since the first tree group formed (SORT – Save Our Roadside Trees [originally known as Save Our Rustlings Trees], Sheffield City Council & Amey have repeatedly asserted (wrongly) that felling a tree is always a last resort. For detail, see the following letter & notes:

    “Misinformation & Misrepresentation”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/820#comment-820

    However, thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees have been felled for causing damage to footways (“pavements”) by pushing the surface upward – known as ridging of the footway. Alternative surfacing can be used to enable the safe long-term retention of existing trees, as well as ramping. If used, these options can achieve a smooth surface of adequate regularity – sufficient for Sheffield City Council to adequately fulfil all statutory duties. Crucially, use of these options has been accounted for within the contract for works and their use comes at no extra cost to the taxpayer. For further detail, see the following letter & notes:

    “Trees & Hazard Management” – published as “Safe long-term retention of existing trees”, on 10th August 2017:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/802#comment-802

    There are various contractual commitments that commit the contractor responsible for service delivery on the £2.2bn highway maintenance contract – Amey – to ensure its acts and omissions represent current good practice and ensure felling is a “last resort”. For more on this, see:

    “Cost of Sustainability”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/822#comment-822
    or
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/ignorance-pig-headedness-and-bullying-remain-the-order-of-the-day-for-the-sheffield-street-trees-strategy/comment-page-1/#comment-1851

    &
    Sustainability Vs Tree Massacre:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/813#comment-813

    Ever since MAY 2015, SORT have been requesting to see evidence that felling is a last resort*. The Facebook comment below is an e-mail from the SCC Information Management Officer to a key SORT participant. For completeness, the content that appears within square brackets has been added later – it was not included in the Facebook posting. The content was posted by Deerhund Shetty, on 8th November 2017, at 00:04 hrs.

    * See the abridged version of the SORT petition hand-out. (The original version was 29 pages and was distributed to EVERY Councillor in Sheffield, on 26th June 2015, by SCC’s John Turner: the Council’s Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department). The abridged version was submitted to the SCC Green Commission as “evidence” for consideration when drafting policy. It can be accessed via the following link:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/SORT_Petition%20Handout%20-%20distributed%20to%20EVERY%20Cllr_on%2026th%20June%202015_v4d.pdf

    *****

    THE FACEBOOK POSTING:

    “Drum Roll….are you ready?? 😀

    SCC has finally responded to SORT’s request for the locations of 143 mature street trees retained by the use of Flexi-Pave, as claimed by Cllr Fox in 2015. Here is their answer:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    [From: “FOI”
    Date: 7 Nov 2017 5:48 pm
    Subject: EIR request 1259 – Sheffield City Council’s response related to the associated Decision Notice
    To: Xxx
    Cc: ]

    Dear XXX

    Following the Information Commissioner’s review of your EIR request (our reference 1259) and the issuing of a Decision Notice against the Council, we have attempted to provide a response to your initial request.

    The Council has concerns that THE 143 FIGURE was initially interpreted incorrectly and is LIKELY to have been based on ESTIMATED LOCATIONS SUITABLE FOR FLEXI PAVING rather than specific sites.

    As NO UNDERLYING DATA OR RECORDS WERE HELD in regard to the 143 figure WE HAVE NO DETAILS OF THE METHODOLOGY USED in the original collation of this information or simple reference to the records held.

    Two years on from the initial statement being issued, the underlying data held by the Council has moved on significantly. As the possible solutions for the management of a tree are suggested as part of a “walk and build” process carried out by a number of officers representing different technical area specialisms anything up to a year and a half prior to any works, the data produced proceeds through a number of stages before resulting in a final action or decision to retain or replace a highway tree.

    The walk and build process includes a number of Amey officers from numerous service areas (trees, street lighting, kerbing, carriageway surfacing, drainage etc.) who would all individually carry out their ASSESSMENTS of the works required on a particular street during the initial planning stage for street improvements. Their individual FINDINGS WOULD THEN ALL BE FED TO THE DESIGNERS for these streets.

    The view of a tree officer in their walking of a street where they considered that a flexible paving solution may be applicable for consideration in the DESIGN FOR THE STREET/ AN INDIVIDUAL TREE, does not mean that the tree in question was not also causing irreparable DAMAGE to other elements of the network. This DAMAGE may have rendered the consideration of a flexible paving solution inappropriate or A SECONDARY ISSUE MAY HAVE MADE THE SUGGESTION DEFUNCT, such as proximity of a fire hydrant. Such issues would result in the initial suggestion of flexible paving as a potential solution not being proceeded with at DESIGN STAGE.

    As a result an exhaustive exercise has been undertaken in an attempt to provide a response to your initial request. This has included over 300 hours of staff time searching for relevant records and site locations in respect to your request. Through this review WE HAVE IDENTIFIED 29 SITES WHERE A FLEXIBLE PAVING SOLUTION HAS BEEN USED and records to this effect have been provided in the attached document.*

    We have highlighted the location, species and pit dimensions in the attached documentation* for your information. The Council appreciates that WE HAVE TO THIS POINT BEEN UNABLE TO IDENTIFY ANY FURTHER SITES WHERE FLEXIBLE PAVING HAS BEEN USED OR PRESCRIBED FOR USE within the Sheffield City Council area.

    We do appreciate that it will likely have been used as a solution elsewhere on the highway network to retain a tree or as a result of new planting; but the data we hold does not identify these sites directly within the records we hold. As a result WE WOULD HAVE TO CREATE RECORDS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON EACH SITE WHERE FLEXIBLE PAVING HAS BEEN UTILISED and this would require the Council or Amey staff to visit each highway tree in the City and complete a visual assessment of in excess of 36,000 trees.

    Through the attempts to collate any relevant records held by the Council and Amey, A REVIEW OF SITE INSPECTION NOTES WAS COMPLETED where available. This review also included identifying and considering information recorded within the “walk and build” and “as built” SITE DRAWINGS THAT WERE MADE FOR EACH SITE. This yielded no useful information related to your initial request as NO SITES WHERE FLEXIBLE PAVING WAS INDICATED AS A POTENTIAL SOLUTION WERE IDENTIFIED.

    We do note that where a FLEXIBLE PAVING SOLUTION HAS BEEN DESIGNED OUT at the “as built” stage, that underlying DATA WOULD NOT BE RETAINED as there would be no value to the Council or Amey in retaining it i.e. there is no value in retaining records of what we might have done but was then not considered necessary or appropriate in THE FINAL DESIGN AND DECISION for the relevant street and individual street tree.

    I do hope that the information disclosed is of assistance to your request.

    Kind regards

    Mark”

    [Mark Knight
    Information Management Officer
    Business Change and Information Solutions (BCIS)
    Resources Portfolio, Sheffield City Council
    Postal Address: Sheffield City Council, PO Box 1283, Sheffield S1 1UJ]

    Source (STAG FB):
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/854869918023432/

    *The “attached documentation” can be accessed via the following link, in PDF format:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/Flexible%20paving%20installations%20-%20A%20Document%20Attached%20To%20The%20SCC%20Response%20to%20ICO%20Decision%20Notice%20FS50637180%20-%20Issued%20on%207th%20Nov%202017.pdf

    It was the only document attached to the response. The document was named “Flexible paving installations”. It was authored by “Taylor Hanson, Serenity”, on 1st November 2017 and modified, at the same time, by “Wendy Woodhead CEX)”. SCC prefers to use the term “flexible paving” when responding to all enquiries about use of the trademarked product “FLEXI®-PAVE”. Cllr Bryan Lodge – SCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene (Cllr Fox’s successor) has clarified that this is because SCC & Amey can pass “asphalt” (Tarmac) off as a type of flexible paving [A]. The implication being that if they already use a “flexible” surfacing product for footways when resurfacing past mature trees, there’s no point in using anything different, even though alternative surfacing comes at “no extra cost to the taxpayer”.

    “The engineering and tree-based solutions come at no extra cost to the council. So, the tax-payer does not pay if an engineering solution or a tree-based solution can be applied” [B].

    NOTES:

    A) https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/751#comment-751

    B) https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/820#comment-820

    *****
    Could this explain why our Council is so stubborn, backward & populated by ignorant bigots (Scroll to 39min 20s)?
    http://www.ukcolumn.org/ukcolumn-news/uk-column-news-9th-february-2017

    *****

    THE COMMUNICATION POSTED ON STAG FACEBOOK WAS ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO A DECISION NOTICE ISSUED BY THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER.

    • The Decision Notice, can be accessed via the following link:
    https://search.ico.org.uk/ico/search?q=FS50637180

    • Earlier communications about alternative surfacing and the use of FLEXI®-PAVE” to retain mature street trees (mature trees account for @73.8% of all street trees in Sheffield), can be accessed via the following link:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/831#comment-831

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/832#comment-832

  2. Technotronic says:

    SUSTAINABILITY – LEGISLATION

    PRESS RELEASE

    “NEW ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS TO DELIVER A GREEN BREXIT

    From:
    Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

    Published:
    12 November 2017

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove announces PLANS TO CONSULT ON A NEW, INDEPENDENT BODY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS

    Plans to consult ON A NEW, INDEPENDENT BODY THAT WOULD HOLD GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT FOR UPHOLDING ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS IN ENGLAND after we leave the European Union have been set out by Environment Secretary Michael Gove today.

    Leaving the EU gives us the opportunity to PUT THE ENVIRONMENT AT THE HEART OF POLICY MAKING, while ENSURING VITAL PROTECTIONS for our LANDSCAPES, wildlife AND NATURAL ASSETS are not only MAINTAINED but ENHANCED.

    To help deliver a Green Brexit, ministers will consult on A NEW INDEPENDENT, STATUTORY BODY TO ADVISE AND CHALLENGE GOVERNMENT AND POTENTIALLY OTHER PUBLIC BODIES on environmental legislation –

    STEPPING IN WHEN NEEDED TO HOLD THESE BODIES TO ACCOUNT AND ENFORCE STANDARDS.

    A CONSULTATION ON THE SPECIFIC POWERS AND SCOPE of the new body will be launched EARLY NEXT YEAR.

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove said today:

    ‘We will deliver a Green Brexit, where ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS are not only MAINTAINED but ENHANCED.

    *****
    ‘TODAY WE ARE SETTING OUT OUR PLANS TO ENSURE THE POWERFUL ARE HELD TO ACCOUNT. WE WILL CONSULT ON CREATING AN INDEPENDENT BODY – ENCOURAGING TRANSPARENCY AND PREVENTING CARELESS OR IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR DAMAGING OUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.’

    *****

    ‘WE WILL CONSULT AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE on these proposals to ensure we get this important decision right for future generations.’

    Currently environmental decisions made in the UK – from improving air and water quality to protecting endangered species – are overseen by the EUROPEAN COMMISSION, which MONITORS targets, SCRUTINISES new legislation and TAKES ACTION against illegal behaviour.

    This current system is underpinned by a number of ‘ENVIRONMENTAL PRINCIPLES’, such as SUSTAINABLE development and the polluter pays principle, which puts the onus on polluting individuals or businesses to pay to repair damage.

    *****
    Although THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALREADY CENTRAL TO GOVERNMENT ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, they are not set out in one place besides the EU treaties.

    The proposed consultation on the statutory body will therefore also explore the SCOPE and CONTENT of A NEW POLICY STATEMENT TO ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL PRINCIPLES UNDERPIN POLICY MAKING.

    *****

    One of the key questions, which we will explore with the devolved administrations (DAs), is whether Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wish to take a different or similar approach.

    WE WANT TO HEAR FROM AS MANY PEOPLE AND ORGANISATIONS AS POSSIBLE right across the UK – from business, NGOs, the farming sector, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND ELSEWHERE.”

    SOURCE:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-environmental-protections-to-deliver-a-green-brexit

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-environmental-protections-to-deliver-a-green-brexit

  3. Technotronic says:

    LETTER

    The following letter has just arrived in my inbox, dated 6th December 2017. The author has kindly granted permission for me to share it here and has informed that it has been sent to the following newspapers:

    THE STAR, Sheffield Telegraph, The Yorkshire Post & The Guardian.

    Notation and references have been added to support the content.

    *****

    “HOW TO RETAIN MEMORIAL TREES

    On 20th September 2017, The Star – a Sheffield newspaper – reported on the potential cost of retaining street trees [1]. An extortionate estimate of cost to retain trees was provided. Steve Robinson (then SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) was quoted:

    “That’s not a result of a detailed design. We would have to spend some money to do a detailed design.”

    Commenting on the possibility of tree retention, in a report dated 27th November 2017, Philip Beecroft – recently appointed SCC Head of Highway Maintenance – asserted:

    “Undertaking this work…would require prioritisation of the potential tree works against other pressing council priorities such as social care.” [2]

    Of course, instead, Sheffield City Council (SCC) could use some of the £2 million plus that they have fined Amey for sub-standard works [3]. After all, SCC never whinge when it comes to dipping in to that multi-million pound pot to needlessly squander funds on household felling surveys, a sham “Independent” Tree Panel, surveillance of citizen tree groups, PR, smear, campaigns of misrepresentation, or court cases. All of which have been unnecessary, avoidable and represent malpractice [4] – a reckless use of public resources. Even so, only a relatively small fraction of the fine money has been used on such things, leaving plenty to enable the retention of mature street trees and ensure the SCC Highways PFI Client Team – responsible for monitoring and enforcing standards for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project – is adequately resourced [5].

    Amey is the service provider for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project. In 2015, commenting on Amey’s contractual commitments, as SCC Cabinet Member For Environment, Recycling And Streetscene, Cllr Jayne Dunn informed:

    “Under the contract they have to fulfil any promise” [6].

    As I understand it, a contract is legally binding. In response to a 140 page letter from the Save Our Roadside Trees Group, dated 29th January 2016 (distributed to every Councillor in the city) [4], on 2nd February 2016, Amey released a “commercially sensitive” contract document [7]. Quote:

    “The removal of street trees will only be considered as a last resort where there are no other reasonably practicable management options available. […] As part of our commitment to only removing a street tree as a last resort, whenever a tree is found to be either damaging or disciminatory, we consider a list of engineering solutions to establish whether any of these can be employed to retain the tree in situ.”

    On 2nd September, 2015, at the second (most recent) meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Tree Advisory Forum, Steve Robinson – Beecroft’s predecessor – publicly presented a list of 25 ideas – “engineering solutions” – that could be used to retain mature street trees when resurfacing. The list included: EXCAVATION; “FLEXIBLE PAVING/SURFACING SOLUTION”; RAMPING/RE-PROFILING; USE OF THINNER KERBS; REMOVAL OF DISPLACED KERBS; PRUNING (including pollarding); “creation of LARGER TREE PITS” [7]. He informed:

    “THE ENGINEERING AND TREE-BASED SOLUTIONS COME AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE COUNCIL. SO, THE TAX-PAYER DOES NOT PAY if an engineering solution or a tree-based solution can be applied, and the reason for that is that the Streets Ahead project is a highway maintenance project and engineering and tree-based solutions are highway maintenance solutions.” [8]

    Should works be unaffordable, Mr Robinson informed: “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.”[9]

    There are a number of “strategic goals” listed within the contract document, such as:

    “MAXIMISE potential CANOPY COVER through… good arboricultural management”
    “Establish a SUSTAINABLE tree stock through… appropriate management.”
    “Improve compatibility with environment through HOLISTIC HIGHWAY DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT.”
    “Improve function of highway trees through INNOVATIVE DESIGN strategy.”

    On numerous occasions, the Council and Amey have asserted that they work to British Standard 5837. The standard states [10]:

    “ROOT SYSTEMS, stems and canopies, with allowance for future movement and growth, NEED to be taken into account in all projects…

    Where tree retention or planting is proposed…

    THE OBJECTIVE SHOULD BE to achieve a harmonious relationship between trees and structures that can be sustained…
    (from page 1 of BS5837)

    A PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH TOWARDS TREE PROTECTION SHOULD BE ADOPTED…

    […] Details of DESIGN PROPOSALS should be developed in conjunction with the project ARBORICULTURIST and, where required, input from a SUITABLY QUALIFIED engineer.”
    (from page 23 of BS5837)

    Time for SCC to enforce contractual commitments [6 & 7] and for SCC & Amey to start implementing current good practice [5].

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

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/837#comment-837

    *****
    NOTES & REFERENCES

    *****
    1)
    “Saving Sheffield’s war memorial trees ‘could cost £350,000’”:
    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/saving-sheffield-s-war-memorial-trees-could-cost-350-000-1-8764033

    2)
    See Paul Billington’s* report (“War Memorial Trees”) to the SCC Cabinet, authored by Philip Beecroft (the newly appointed Head of Highway Maintenance), dated 27th November 2017:
    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s29127/War%20Memorial%20Trees.pdf

    Also see:
    “War memorial trees in Sheffield ‘would cost £500,000 to save’:
    https://www.thestar.co.uk/our-towns-and-cities/sheffield/war-memorial-trees-in-sheffield-would-cost-500-000-to-save-1-8894518

    *Paul Billington is SCC’s Director of Development Services – the substitute for David Caulfield (resigned). Mr Billington is responsible for all aspects of the £2.2bn, city-wide, Streets Ahead highway maintenance project that affect trees.

    3)
    See previous letters submitted to Johnson publishing Ltd which were never printed:

    Sustainability_FELLING_Rustlings Rd (aka: “FELLING: SCC/AMEY INCOMPETENCE AND DECEIT”, dated 22nd November, 2016):
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/698#comment-698

    “A LETTER TO THE SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH” (dated 23rd November, 2016)
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/714#comment-714

    “COUNCIL INCOMPETENCE” (dated 19th December, 2016):
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/728#comment-728

    “COST OF SUSTAINABILITY” (dated 29th September 2017):
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/822#comment-822

    In addition to the above, listen to the attached audio clip, named: “Cllr Lodge – SCC Cabinet Member For Environment And Streetscene – 1st August 2016_Amey_Streets Ahead_PFI_Fines_160801_002_4_2”

    4)
    See the SORT letter, dated 29th January, 2016, distributed by SCC to EVERY councillor in the city, as the Nether Edge petition hand-out. It can be accessed using the following link: 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

    5)
    Listen to the attached audio clips, named as follows:
    “4_Cllr Lodge_1st August 2016_PFI_Client Team_160801_002_4_2”

    “Amey_Roadshow_Sharrow_Nether Edge_14th Sept_2016_Enquiries_PFI_Client Team_160914_003_7”

    6)
    An e-mail from Cllr Jayne Dunn to a lead participant within the Save Our Roadside Trees Sheffield Tree Action Group. It can be viewed using this link:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/787#comment-787

    7)
    See the Amey PFI contract document for tree management that was made public on 2nd February 2016 (the day before the Nether Edge Sheffield Tree Action Group presented their 6,295 plus signature petition at a meeting of Sheffield City Council). It was released in response to a letter from the Save Our Roadside trees Sheffield Tree Action Group, addressed to Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), dated 29th January 2016 [4]:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/SCC_Sheffield%20Streets%20Ahead%205%20Year%20Tree%20Management%20Strategy.pdf

    Also see:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/6Ds_SCC%20%26%20AMEY%20HIGHWAYS%20INFRASTRUCTURE%20ASSESSMENT%20CRITERIA%20-%20LICENCE%20TO%20KILL_1.pdf

    8)
    See D.Long’s previous letter: “The Battle For Sustainable Stewardship of Sheffield’s Street Trees” ( https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/810#comment-810 ).

    Also listen to the attached audio clip, from the second meeting of the “bi-monthly” Streets Ahead Highway Tree Advisory Forum, held on 2nd September 2015:

    “HTAF 2_2nd_September_2015_Steve_Robinson – SCC Head of Highway Maintenance_NO EXTRA COST SOLUTIONS_150902_001_2_3_2” (transcribed on page 47 of the SORT letter [4, above]).

    Please note that to date (6th December 2017) there has not been a third meeting, despite the SCC website continuing to assert:

    “Anyone who cares about the trees on Sheffield’s streets can come along to the Highway Tree Advisory Forum meeting.

    The forum has been set up to give people an opportunity to hear from a variety of experts from various fields from across the city to debate how highway trees should be managed.”

    Source:
    https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/roads-pavements/managing-street-trees.html
    (web-page last updated on 2nd November 2017 at 10:39AM)

    9)
    Listen to the attached audio clip, from the second meeting of the “bi-monthly” Streets Ahead Highway Tree Advisory Forum, held on 2nd September 2015:

    “HTAF 2_2nd_September_2015_Steve_Robinson – SCC Head of Highway Maintenance_Section 58 Defence – Insufficient Funding_150902_001_2_3_2” (transcribed on page 45 of the SORT letter [4, above]).

    10)
    Reference: The British Standards Institution, 2012. British Standard 5837:2012 Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations”. London: BSI Standards Ltd.

  4. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER THE STAR REFUSED TO PUBLISH

    WW1 MEMORIAL TREES

    The letter below arrived in my inbox on Tuesday 3rd March, 2017. It was sent to The Star newspaper the same day. The author has given permission for me to share it here. To date, The Star have not published it.

    *****

    “Amey and Sheffield City Council (SCC) have informed residents of Western Rd (Crookes) that investigation work will take place between 6th & 10th March 2017, to help determine whether or not any of the 25 ideas that SCC have listed as ‘solutions’ would be reasonably practicable to use to retain the trees. Like most healthy, mature street trees scheduled for felling by the Streets Ahead team (SA), with scores of years of safe useful life expectancy ahead of them, the Western Rd WW1 memorial trees are scheduled for felling because of their association with damage – primarily to footways and kerbs. Trees could be safely retained long term, by use of adequate, alternative highway engineering specifications for construction and repair.

    In October 2015, when such investigations were scheduled for Rustlings Road, the team responsible for the £2.2bn Streets Ahead Highway maintenance project, and SCC’s Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), made the following invitation to SORT:

    ‘You are welcome to provide your own representation and SCRUTINY of the excavation area should SORT have any interested parties with the appropriate technical knowledge or background wishing to attend.’

    SORT accepted the invitation and invited me to ‘scrutinise’ at site on the day of works. What I witnessed was shocking and amounted to nothing more than a PR stunt. Amey’s senior engineer – NICK HETHERINGTON (former SCC) – was present on site, supervised excavation close to three trees, and undertook the ‘investigations’. His recommendations are those presented to SCC. The process was: 1) to identify three trees associated with the worst footway ‘ridging’ damage; 2) excavate one small pit (@60x60sq) by each tree, through the worst ridge; 3) lay a spirit level across the hole and use a ruler to measure the depth from the spirit level down to the root. That was the totality of the investigation*. This method could not and would not provide any useful information. It is the kind of practice that is more befitting of a rogue trader than a competent professional. No excavations were undertaken prior to felling any of the other 8 trees that were felled on Rustlings Road in November 2016. Mr HETHERINGTON was uncooperative. Each question I asked of him was met with the response: ‘I’m not here today to answer questions’. However, when SORT asked ‘how much depth was needed for the mechanical planer’ (the machine used to grind away tarmac), he informed that 150 mm depth was necessary to lay 20 to 60 mm of tarmac.

    In 2007, mature trees (25,877 trees) accounted for 73.8% of the entire population of Sheffield’s street trees. They are the ones most susceptible to ill health and compromised structural integrity as a result of damage caused by use of mowers, strimmers, and machinery used in close proximity to trees during lighting and resurfacing works, such as diggers and planing machines. The prospect of such damage has been used by the SA team to justify the felling of 1000s of healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees: valuable trees which could otherwise be safely retained, long-term through compliance with current good practice guidance and recommendations (TDAG; BS5837 & NJUG).

    Current UK ROAD LIAISON GROUP GUIDANCE, commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT), states:

    ‘Although ensuring the safety of footways for users will be a priority, in some cases the presence of roadside trees may complicate the provision of footway surface regularity. THE RADICAL TREATMENT OR COMPLETE TREE REMOVAL NECESSARY TO ENSURE SURFACE REGULARITY MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE OR DESIRABLE AND REDUCED LEVELS OF SURFACE REGULARITY MAY BE A MORE ACCEPTABLE OUTCOME.’

    Unless SCC & Amey (the contractor for the PFI project) review and revise their opinions, policies and plans, and adjust their acts and omissions to incorporate and implement current good practice, SHEFFIELD STANDS TO LOSE MOST/ALL OF ITS MATURE STREET TREES DURING THE AMEY PFI CONTRACT. Let’s hope Western Rd is not just another PR stunt!

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb)”

    * Since sending the letter, the author has added the following:

    “In addition to the footway excavations, the kerb stone nearest the stem of each of the three trees was removed and the level and ruler used in similar fashion.”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/736#comment-736

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