Chris Packham in Sheffield to see for himself ……

Chris Packham – wildlife expert, campaigner and broadcaster took time out today from a very busy schedule to visit the Sheffield Street Trees Campaign….

 

Chris Packham in Sheffield to see for himself the street tree debacle……

Above with UK tree expert Jeremy Barrell and international authority Philip van Wassenaer, a senior urban forest expert from Canada. Philip stated that none of the trees he was viewing could justify felling rather than, in some cases, a little careful management.

Inside the barricades ………! Chris making a serious point.

And below – here once stood a great tree………..

And nearby – on a main road – health and safety??

So much for trees causing a hazard – how about this?

Priorities misplaced perhaps???

More to follow shortly

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5 Responses to Chris Packham in Sheffield to see for himself ……

  1. Technotronic says:

    MASS FELLING

    SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCE THE FELLING OF 17,500 STREET TREES

    (Originally posted on Stocksbridge Community Forum)

    On 9th March 2018, in response to a demand by the Information Commissioner, Sheffield City Council (SCC) released a redacted version of the £2.2bn PFI highway maintenance contract for the Streets Ahead project. It reveals that SCC have set a TARGET for the contractor (Amey) to fell 200 trees per year with a total of 17,500 to be felled over a 25yr period (67.6% of mature street trees).

    See:

    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-region/south-yorkshire/sheffield/sheffield-council-forced-to-reveal-target-to-remove-17-500-street-trees-under-pfi-deal-1-9056942

    https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/roads-pavements/streets-ahead/streets-ahead-documents.html

    Although the contract permits the contractor to request that fewer trees be felled, and it permits the Council to grant that permission. However, to quote the Council, as reported in The Yorkshire Post (newspaper):

    “The spokeswoman said: […] If, at the end of the contract, a smaller number has been replaced, a financial adjustment will be made.

    […]
    THE COUNCIL HAS NOW CONFIRMED TO THE YORKSHIRE POST THAT NO FORMAL AGREEMENT HAS BEEN MADE TO CHANGE THE CONTRACT AND A SPOKESWOMAN SAID THERE IS NO INTENTION TO DO on the grounds that the current wording ‘provides financial cover should it prove necessary to replace that many'”.

    SOURCE:
    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/sheffield-council-confirms-contract-containing-17-500-tree-felling-figure-won-t-be-changed-1-9072762

    As the contractor will receive a reduced payment if 17,500 street trees are not felled, and as the contractor makes greater profit by felling mature trees, there is no incentive for the contractor not to fell so many. To make matters worse, SCC rely heavily on the contractor monitoring, auditing and reporting on their own work. See:

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

    The contractor is also tasked with handling and investigating all enquiries and complaints about their own work, on behalf of SCC…

    *****
    From Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) Facebook (posted by Cathie Rainbow, on 12th March 2018):

    Interesting! I PUT IN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT TO SHEFFIELD COUNCIL re trees and got response ! Is this normal for Sheffield Council to pass my details to the person I am in fact complaing about ?
    I asked if response was from SCC and got this reply.

    “Thank you for your email dated 2 March 2018.

    I can confirm that I am an Amey employee.

    For your information, I can confirm that AMEY HAS DESIGNATED POWERS TO RESPOND ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL ON ALL MATTERS PERTAINING TO STREETS AHEAD WORKS, INCLUDING THE HANDLING AND INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS.

    All complaints are handled in accordance with the Council’s Customer Complaints procedure and the Council retains an oversight of all Streets Ahead complaints handled, including this one. I can confirm, therefore, that the Council is aware of your complaint and has reviewed this response prior to it being sent to you.

    As previously advised, at this stage you do have the right to ask for your complaint to be reviewed by a more senior manager.

    To request this please contact me via streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk or by telephone on (0114) 273 4567, giving details of why you are not satisfied and what further action you want to be taken.

    Kind regards

    Jeremy Willis

    Operations Manager
    Customer Services (Amey)

    Tel: 0114 273 4567
    Email: streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk

    Source:
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/919952641515159/

    Please note that Mr Willis has resigned. His last day of employment is believed to have been 25th April 2018. See the comment left by Phil Yates on STAG Facebook, on 25th April 2018:

    “Jeremy Willis EX Operations Manager. He is having a leaving party today.”

    SOURCE (in the ‘comments’ area):
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/943391072504649/

    *****
    This is, potentially, GREAT NEWS for Sheffield’s street trees, as Mr Willis was arguably the biggest obstacle to positive change in policy and practice that affect highway trees. He was arguably the greatest obstacle to, and opponent of, sustainable stewardship, as defined by The UK Forestry Standard: The Governments’ Approach To Sustainable Forest Management.

    Interestingly, in one of his final communications, Mr Willis informed:

    “Throughout this contract, wood and bi-products such as wood chip have been donated… It is also being recycled… The remainder of the product is sent to the bio-mass market, THE INCOME FROM WHICH IS USED BY AMEY TO SUPPORT THE TREE RE-PLANT PROGRAMME around the city.

    …any SPECIFIC FIGURES or percentage of wood being utilised in Sheffield, for reuse or as a bio product, or what is sent for bio-mass incineration as this information is both COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE…”

    SOURCE:
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/943380065839083/

    What is particularly interesting about that is that ALL planting is budgeted for within the contract. Amey are supposed to restock with substitutes for felled trees on a one-for-one basis, and, AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE, restock all trees that die, or are poisoned, diseased, severely damaged or destroyed.

    To quote from a piece in The Star (local newspaper), dated 23rd January 2017:

    “Sheffield Council this week revealed close to 100 trees had been snapped or broken in the four years since the start of the multi-million pound contract with Amey.

    The trees – which were planted to replace more mature trees cut down as part of the programme – ALL HAVE TO BE REPLACED AT EXTRA COST.

    But TAXPAYERS ARE NOT HAVING TO SHELL OUT ANY MORE, WITH THE NEW TREES PAID FOR BY AMEY.”

    SOURCE:
    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/almost-100-new-trees-in-sheffield-damaged-by-vandals-council-confirms-1-8349006

    *****
    Also, far from “donating”, Amey appear to have been charging people that request or agree to accept logs. On 4th April 2018, a posting by Sarah Wild appeared on STAG Facebook. It appears to be a communication from the Chief Executive of Heeley City Farm (John Le Corney), dated March 2018. It states:

    “Amey were interested in setting up a sort of charitable trust to benefit not-for-profit Sheffield organisations. Although we directed them to the right legal people to write the articles of a charitable structure Amey decided not to follow this route.
    […]
    We entered into discussions with Amey and even took a small delivery of logs as a trial. However throughout the negotiations AMEY INSISTED THAT WE SHOULD PAY A FEE FOR THE LOGS and it was clear that we would not be able to generate income to support the charitable work of Heeley City Farm.”

    SOURCE:
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/714930242017401/

    *****
    So, the question is: why is the money from logs & woodchip going to Amay, rather than the Sheffield City Council Highways PFI Client Team?

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1449

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/full_work_contact_details_for_sc

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1415

    https://savesheffieldtreesorguk.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/elliott_scc_highway-tree-survey-2006-07.pdf

  2. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO THE STAR

    TREES: JUGGLING SUSTAINABILITY, RISK & FEAR
    (Dated 13th April 2018)

    On the 9th March 2018, Sheffield City Council (SCC) revealed that the £2.2bn highway maintenance PFI contract includes a target for the felling of 17,500 mature street trees [1]: 67.6% of mature street trees [2]. On 20th March, The Yorkshire Post reported that SCC had informed that it has “no intention” to change the contract to adjust the target number [3]. Large, mature trees contribute significantly more to the neighbourhoods and communities than smaller trees, in terms of the magnitude and value of benefits they provide [4]. [[They improve quality of the built environment; obscure eyesores; provide shelter from extreme weather; slow the flow of rainwater and reduce surface-water run-off; reduce heat reflectance from hard surfaces and parked cars; reduce exposure – of people and infrastructure – to extreme temperatures, and protect verges, footways and pedestrians from vehicles. Our pleasure in enjoyment of their beauty, and in the range of associated wildlife, enhances our health and wellbeing and reduces the NHS burden. The human mortality rate and respiratory diseases are reduced, as crowns filter harmful pollutants from the air we breathe [5].]] The range of valuable ecosystem services that the canopy cover of a tree population affords to neighbourhoods and communities can be assessed and used in risk assessment and cost:benefit analyses to aid resource allocation decisions [6].

    In 2008, the Department for Communities and Local Government published a report (Trees in Towns II [7]) that advised:

    “Those LAs that have not got an existing tree strategy and are not in the process of developing one, need to make this an IMMEDIATE priority…”

    Competent local authorities adopt a tree strategy to help ensure that tree populations within the urban forest (the collective tree cover of the city) are managed SUSTAINABLY, as defined by The UK Forestry Standard [8]. A tree strategy should be used to guide and inform policy and decisions that affect trees, to help ensure that acts and omissions are, BALANCED, PROPORTIONATE, ADEQUATE, AUDITABLE, DEFENDABLE, AND NOT UNDULY INFLUENCED BY TRANSITORY OR EXAGGERATED OPINIONS, whether formed by the media or vested interests [9]. A tree strategy that incorporates current good practice guidance and recommendations is the most appropriate way to help ensure the prudent, rational stewardship and use of public resources, and to SAFEGUARD AGAINST UNNECESSARY, AVOIDABLE, REASONABLY FORESEEABLE DAMAGE, LOSS AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION [10]. Unfortunately, Sheffield City Council has neglected to fulfil its 8yo policy commitment to have one – hence its costly errors [11].

    When Sheffield’s first tree group – Save our Rustlings Trees (SORT) – presented their 10,000 signature petition to full Council, on 1st July 2015, the Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox) ANNOUNCED [12]:

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

    This was undertaken by Elliott Consultancy Ltd. In 2007, Elliott recommended that SCC have a TREE STRATEGY [2]:

    “A formal document; RATIFIED BY THE COUNCIL; detailing policies; DETAILING BEST PRACTISE; DETAILING PROCEDURES; outlining the goals and objectives”.

    Guidance from the National Tree Safety Group, published by the Forestry Commission, in 2011 [9], states:

    “The NTSG position statement argues that IT IS REASONABLE TO INCLUDE SOCIETAL VALUE AND BENEFIT IN THE CALCULATION OF WHAT IS REASONABLE where a landowner or manager is acting in the public interest.”

    “…a reasonable strategy, articulating the benefits of trees, should, in the view of the NTSG, carry as much weight in PROTECTING THE TREE OWNER AGAINST LITIGATION following an incident as any factory’s reasonable risk management policy.”

    Yours sincerely,

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arboriculture), Sheffield

    Note:
    The author has informed that a shorter version was also submitted to The Star on 26th April 2018: it was made shorter by omission of the above content that you see enclosed between double [[squared brackets.]]

  3. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH

    TREE MASSACRE – A FEW FACTS.
    (Dated 10th April 2018)

    In the absence of facts, people that oppose the efforts of Sheffield Tree Action Groups often hypothesise that Sheffield City Council must make a choice between the retention of thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees and cuts to Council services. To dispel fear and combat ignorance, I hope the following facts are of some help.

    On 1st July 2015, [[during ‘debate’ of a 10,0000 signature petition, presented by the Save Our Roadside Trees group (SORT: Sheffield’s first tree group)]], the SCC Cabinet Member For Environment &Transport – Cllr Terry Fox – stated [1]:

    “But let me be clear, Lord Mayor, for the avoidance of doubt, we do not pay a single penny to Amey whether they take out a hundred trees or no trees. …Lord Mayor, any felling of a tree is a last resort.”

    During a private meeting, on 13th December 2017, SCC’s Chief Executive – John Mothersole (Project Sponsor for the £2.2bn project & Head of the Streets Ahead Project Delivery Team) was reminded of Cllr Fox’s words. Mothersole responded [2]:

    “Correct. It’s true. I agree with him. …Terry said the truth.”

    On 23rd July, 2015, at the first of the two ‘bi-monthly’ meetings of the Highway Tree Advisory Forum (HTAF) [[that have occurred to date]], Steve Robinson (SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) informed:

    ‘So, our underinvestment and underfunding left us with a number of DEAD, DYING and DANGEROUS trees. …THERE WERE 1,200 TREES THAT WERE WITHIN THAT CATEGORY. So, Amey identified those trees and addressed those first.
    […]
    Our next priority is to improve the condition of our roads and pavements. So, in other words, deal with the DAMAGING trees… So, we’re now looking to deal with DISCRIMINATORY trees. [3]

    …there’s been 2,563 highway trees removed because they met one of the 6Ds… [4]

    …IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED. …a tree is removed as a LAST resort'[5]

    On 2nd September, 2015, at the second – most recent – HTAF meeting, Steve Robinson publicly presented a list of 25 ideas – “engineering solutions” – that could be used to retain mature street trees when resurfacing. He informed [6]:

    ‘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.’

    With regard to minor damage to the highway, he stated [7]:

    ‘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.’

    In response to a 140 page letter from SORT, dated 29th January 2016 [[(distributed on 1st February, 2016, by SCC, to every Councillor in the city, as a petition hand-out)]], on 2nd February 2016, Amey released a contract document [8] which they claimed had been kept secret because it was “commercially sensitive”.

    [[When the Nether Edge Sheffield Tree Action Group presented their petition, with over 6,295 signatures petition, at a meeting of Sheffield City Council,]] on 3rd February 2016, Cllr Terry Fox – said [9]:

    “Amey had the five-year Tree Management Strategy WITHIN THEIR CONFIDENTIAL CONTRACT”

    The document lists 25 the ideas that Amey claim consider for use – as a substitute for alternative highway engineering specifications – to retain mature street trees. The list includes the “no extra cost” options: excavation; “FLEXIBLE PAVING/SURFACING SOLUTION”; RAMPING/RE-PROFILING; use of thinner kerbs; REMOVAL OF DISPLACED KERBS; pruning (including pollarding); “creation of larger tree pits”. In addition, Amey commit to: ‘MAXIMISE potential CANOPY COVER’, SUSTAINABILITY, and ‘HOLISTIC’, ‘INNOVATIVE’ highway design and management.

    Amey is the service provider for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project. In an e-mail to a lead SORT participant, dated 10th May 2015, commenting on Amey’s contractual commitments, as SCC Cabinet Member For Environment, Recycling And Streetscene, Cllr Jayne Dunn informed [10]:

    “UNDER THE CONTRACT THEY HAVE TO FULFIL ANY PROMISE”.

    In light of all these facts, felling mature trees should be a last resort, yet it is not. On the 9th March 2018, Sheffield City Council (SCC) revealed that THE £2.2BN HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE PFI CONTRACT INCLUDES A TARGET FOR THE FELLING OF 17,500 MATURE STREET TREES [11]: 67.6% of mature street trees [12]. Perhaps that explains the unsustainable, disproportionate approach to stewardship of Sheffield’s green infrastructure? [13]

    Yours sincerely,

    David Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester)

    Note:
    The author has informed that a shorter version was also submitted to Sheffield Telegraph on 10th April 2018: it was made shorter by omission of the above content that is enclosed between double [[squared brackets.]]

  4. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE STAR
    (published on 16th September 2015)

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/the-great-sheffield-chainsaw-massacre-1-7463390

    This is the unedited version. The bits that The Star edited out appear between square brackets.

    *****
    THE GREAT SHEFFIELD CHAINSAW MASSACRE
    – A Response to Louise Haigh MP

    “On 2nd Sept, as the second meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum took place, with reference to the felling of Sheffield’s highway trees, the BBC announced: “…there are another 2,000 TO BE cut down THIS YEAR, so far.”

    No wonder residents are upset! As SORT point out in their >13,000 signature petition, our highway trees are key component of Sheffield’s green infrastructure; a valuable asset that make a significant contribution to our health and well-being, not least of all through their beauty and our pleasure of its enjoyment (amenity value), reducing health problems and associated NHS costs.

    In response to MP Louise Haigh’s question about the basis for opposition to the current five years of city-wide felling programme, the basis is set out in the Save our Roadside Trees (SORT) letter addressed to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July, 2015*. The basis was and is also detailed in the SORT hand-out that was distributed to every Councillor on 26th June, 2015, by the Council’s Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department. Ms Haigh received a copy of the latter on 25th June, and again on 1st July, 2015. Both documents are accessible online, via Stocksbridge Community Forum (News section).

    Any city-wide felling programme that lacks a strategic, planned, systematic and integrated approach and that fails to involve communities [(THROUGH A PROGRAMME THAT ENABLES EDUCATION, CONSULTATION AND PARTICIPATION)] is likely to attract criticism from every quarter.

    The city-wide felling programme will drastically reduce the number of large-crowned trees along our streets, having significant negative impact on the shape, size and distribution of canopy cover along highways, and on the range, magnitude and value of associated ecosystem goods and services afforded by these trees [TO THE ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNITIES AND ALL LIVING THINGS].

    Sheffield’s urban forest IS defined by its canopy cover, according to the Government’s own policy: The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management. The standard exists to implement forestry policy and forestry principles and criteria set by the international community. It requires “stewardship and use…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…levels….”

    These “functions” are the ecosystem goods and services include those that the SORT petition mentioned. Other cities have had these valued and found them to be worth millions of pounds each year.

    SORT Submitted the following Freedom of information (FOI) request (Ref: FOI / 423) on 06/07/2015: “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.” A response was received on 22/7/2015:

    “WE DO NOT CARRY OUT A RISK ASSESSMENT AS PART OF OUR REVIEW OF TREES.”

    SORT also submitted another FOI request (Ref: FOI / 493) on 18/07/2015: “Under the FOI act, I request to see the assessment criteria and completed assessments that led to the decision to fell trees causing pavement ridging on Rustlings Road.” A response was received on 7/8/2015:

    “The assessment criteria are as set out on the Council’s website.”

    At that time all that we could find (as now) is the now infamous 6Ds policy that Cllr Fox claimed, at the meeting of full council on 1/7/2015, was the city’s tree strategy, presented in its entirety.

    The Acts of Parliament that the Council quote only place a duty on the Council to that which is reasonable, in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES of the case.

    SORT Believe that, in fulfilment of this duty, it would be prudent and reasonable for the Council to adopt APPROPRIATE, ADEQUATE, BALANCED ASSESSMENTS TO INFORM DECISIONS and help ensure that they are DEFENDABLE.

    We believe this would help ensure a sustainable approach and HELP TEMPER A DESTRUCTIVE, RISK-AVERSE APPROACH, provided assessments are undertaken BY COMPETENT PEOPLE using current, widely recognised and accepted, appropriate methods. It would also help ensure that decisions that are based on sound evidence and not unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions [, WHETHER FORMED BY THE MEDIA, LOBBY GROUPS OR VESTED INTERESTS].

    SORT Are grateful to all supporters, especially The Star, for helping to highlight the urgent need for a strategic approach to the management of OUR urban forest, for the benefit of ALL and future generations.”

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/756#comment-756

    The SORT letter referred to can be accessed via the Sheefied Tree Action Groups Website, using the following link:

    https://savesheffieldtreesorguk.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/sort-letter-to-the-cabinet-member-for-environment-and-transport-14th-july-20152.pdf

    The Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) petition hand-out that was published in support of the Save Our Rustlings Trees campaign, on 25th June, 2015. The hand-out was distributed to every Councillor in Sheffield, by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources), on 26th June 2015, prior to Council “debate” of the SORT petition on Wednesday 1st July, 2015. The original document was 27 pages. Prior to distribution SORT made amendments and added two more pages. The hand-out is available from SORT or STAG. 

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