More on Sheffield Street Tress in the Huffington Post……

Professor Jennifer Saul

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sheffield-council-deceptive-or-stunningly-incompetent_us_5a046bcce4b055de8d096af9?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

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One Response to More on Sheffield Street Tress in the Huffington Post……

  1. Technotronic says:

    LETTER (Tree roots)

    On 13th December 2017, the following letter was sent to various newspapers:

    SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH, THE STAR & The Yorkshire Post.

    The author has kindly granted permission for me to share it here. The author has advised that two versions of the letter were submitted to the editors. The second version was shorter, by the omission of the paragraph that is enclosed between square brackets, below.

    *****
    STREET TREES & HIGHWAY RESURFACING

    Dear Editor,

    In Sheffield Telegraph (7/12/2017), an anonymous person – I’ll name Willis, for convenience – responded to an earlier letter. Willis criticised the contributor for suggesting that roots of street trees that are associated with damage to footways and kerbs could be pruned or sculpted, by contractors working on the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project, as suitable alternatives to felling.

    Most mature street trees are associated with such damage and are routinely listed for felling by the contractor delivering the project – Amey – & Sheffield City Council (SCC). The city-wide felling of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees has attracted international media attention and universal condemnation from many green-space professionals, including eminent academics and arboriculturists. Willis asserted that roots would react to wounding by adding greater incremental growth than usual (reaction wood) and that would result in damage to hard surfaces.

    With oblique reference to research published in 1998*, Willis asserted that the Forestry commission had undertaken an investigation in Sheffield to explore “the difficulty of repairing and resurfacing streets without causing root damage.” In fact, the research referred to was an investigation of the distribution and thickness of tree roots associated with footway damage. The investigation only looked at five trees – all ‘Kanzan’ cherries, like those on Abbeydale Park Rise. However, the research DID NOT investigate or compare methods or techniques for working on or around roots, or for “repairing and resurfacing streets”.

    It is reasonably practicable to undertake excavation & construction in close proximity to trees without causing significant root damage, by ensuring acts and omissions represent current good practice, as detailed in the petition hand-outs that the Save Our Roadside Trees group (SORT) have distributed to Amey, SCC Officers, and every Councillor in the city. These are available for all to see, at the Stocksbridge Community Forum website. Root growth and distribution is significantly affected by physical & chemical properties of the “soil” in which the plants grow. This point was highlighted by the research. It indicates the necessity to ensure there is adequate site preparation prior to planting, so as to help avoid future damage to the built environment. If planting street trees, just digging a hole slightly bigger than the root ball and back-filling it cannot achieve this and is not a sustainable approach, particularly if one aim is to optimise the provision of benefits afforded by trees.

    [Seven of the eight trees felled in the pre-dawn raid on Rustlings Road, a year ago, were felled because of minor disturbance to footways and kerbs. Nineteen of the twenty-three WW1 memorial trees on Western Rd that are to be felled are schedulled for felling for the same reasons. Prior to the £2.2bn Streets Ahead PFI, mature trees accounted for 73.8% of Sheffield’s street trees. SCC say the contract permits the felling of 67.7% of mature street trees. Most are associated with damage to footways and kerbs. Their loss is resulting in significant, instant depletion of street canopy cover, and loss in the magnitude of valuable ecological, economic and social benefits it provides to communities and neighbourhoods, with direct, negative impact on the health & well-being. Sadly, such benefits have not been valued or accounted for by SCC or Amey, nor was their loss, contrary to existing policy commitments, contractual commitments, and a range of current good practice guidance and recommendations that they claim to use.]

    It must be noted that since 1998, a range of good practice guidance has become available to aid those undertaking works in close proximity to trees and help enable the safe long-term retention of mature trees. New products have emerged and are now widely used elsewhere, throughout the UK & overseas. They include resin-bonded aggregates and Flexi®-Pave – an alternative to Asphalt. The key benefit of Flexi®-Pave is that it flexes as plant parts thicken, whereas asphalt cracks and requires additional maintenance. Interestingly, the SCC Head of Highway Maintenance has stated:

    “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”

    “IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED. …a tree is removed as a LAST resort”.

    He also informed that the “solutions” are a list of ideas and that they include: excavation; “flexible paving/surfacing solution”; ramping/re-profiling; use of thinner kerbs; removal of displaced kerbs; pruning (including pollarding); “creation of larger tree pits”.

    When I met Cllr Lodge (SCC’s Cabinet member for Environment And Streetscene), on 1st August, 2016, he informed:

    “The money that we need to monitor that contract is not there, because we try to make savings and… We haven’t got the number of people in that client management team which we ought to have.”

    However, he also informed that SCC had fined Amey over £2 million in 2015, for sub-standard works and were: “just in the process of taking some action against Amey” for the same reason. Really, SCC could and should enforce compliance with existing good practice and contractual commitments.

    Yours faithfully,

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb. Former Highways)

    * Reference:

    Nicoll, B.C. and Armstrong, A., 1998. Development of Prunus root systems in a city street: Pavement damage and root architecture. Arboricultural Journal, 22(3), pp.259-270.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03071375.1998.9747209

    *****
    For current good practice, see the following:

    • “COST OF SUSTAINABILITY”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/822#comment-822 (reference # 9)

    • “THE COUNCIL AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM HAVE EXISTING POLICY COMMITMENTS, TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/793#comment-793

    • “AMEY’S LEGAL OBLIGATION”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/787#comment-787

    • “THE COUNCIL’S COMMITMENT TO RETAIN MATURE HIGHWAY TREES”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/536#comment-536

    • “THE DISCRETION TO RETAIN MATURE TREES”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/543#comment-543

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/838#comment-838

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