Notes from a Wildlife Garden

Notes from a Wildlife Garden – Parakeets becoming celebrities across the region!

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2 Responses to Notes from a Wildlife Garden

  1. Technotronic says:

    ‘WHY THE MASS TREE CULL REALLY ENDED’

    A letter sent to The Star on 27th May 2021

    Dear Editor,

    So, [[why did Sheffield City Council (SCC) and Amey really change their plans for the city-wide mass felling of mature street trees? I’ll explain.

    In early 2018, following a series of inadequate responses from SCC to requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Information Commissioner (IC) threatened to take legal action against SCC within 35 days if it did not make public a previously-redacted sections of the contract for the £2.2bn the Streets Ahead highway maintenance project [1]. In early March 2018 SCC shared parts of the contract that it had previously kept hidden and misrepresented [2]. Contractual felling quotas were revealed, including a target for a total of 17,500 street trees to be felled [3].]]

    Following a lengthy, belated investigation by the Forestry commission (FC), [[on the 18th of July 2019, the FC published a report on the SCC Street tree debacle [4].]] To dispel further confusion, and misunderstanding about the effectiveness of non-violent direct action, here are a few quotes from the FC report:

    [[“THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT BETWEEN SCC AND AMEY WAS MADE PUBLIC IN EARLY 2018. IT WAS AT THIS POINT THAT THE COMMITMENT TO FELL 200 TREES PER ANNUM WAS REVEALED.

    This commitment left open the possibility that those trees were not felled in response to a statutory duty, but as a result of a contractual agreement and SCC policy decision. As such, there was a credible possibility that A FELLING LICENCE MAY HAVE BEEN REQUIRED.”

    “The FC therefore took the decision to undertake an alleged ILLEGAL FELLING ASSESSMENT of the Streets Ahead programme.

    THE ASSESSMENT WAS FORMALLY STARTED ON THE 19 APRIL 2018 with correspondence to both SCC and Amey.

    That correspondence included A REQUEST TO SUSPEND ALL TREE FELLING OF STREET TREES IN SHEFFIELD that SCC was responsible for UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE excepting the need to fell trees which pose an immediate danger to the public.”]]

    “SCC have consistently claimed that all felling conducted under the streets ahead programme is in response to its statutory duty under the Highways Act 1980 (the Highways Act) – to maintain the public highway, and the Equality Act 2010 (the Equality Act) – to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of disabled people.”

    [[“SECTION 9(4)(b) OF THE [Forestry] ACT [1967] PROVIDES AN EXCEPTION TO THE NEED FOR A LICENCE where a person, or organisation, is placed under a duty by another Act of Parliament]] (or Statutory Instrument, such as Regulations, Orders etc., made under an Act). Attention should be drawn to the word ‘obligation’ above. It is considered that “obligation” is synonymous with the word ‘duty’.

    [[A STATUTORY “POWER” TO DO SOMETHING IS INSUFFICIENT TO ENGAGE SECTION 9(4)(B). THERE MUST BE AN IMPERATIVE TO DO SOMETHING, NOT JUST THE OPTION TO DO IT.”]]

    To help local authorities ensure that their highway tree management activities are lawful, and to help prevent future criminal activity, at the time of publishing its report, the FC also published “Highway Tree Management: Operations Note 51”, “to provide an updated good practice guide for highway tree management” [5].

    In October 2016, the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) guidance that SCC & Amey claim to use [6] was revised and the UKRLG published “Well-managed Highway Infrastructure: A Code of Practice” [7]. The UKRLG website informed:

    “The new Code can either be adopted straightaway by authorities or THEY HAVE UNTIL OCTOBER 2018 TO ADOPT A RISK BASED APPROACH.”

    A quote from the UKRLG guidance:

    “AUTHORITIES SHOULD DEVELOP, WITH ADVICE FROM ARBORICULTURISTS, landscape architects and urban designers, A LOCAL POLICY for the installation, management, removal and replacement of highway trees and landscaping. THE POLICY SHOULD RECOGNISE THE AMENITY AND NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE OF TREES, ALONG WITH BENEFITS such as air pollution removal, carbon storage or stormwater attenuation, and also seek constructively to manage ongoing risk to the authority.”

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester)

    *****
    NOTE (from the author):
    The sections of the above letter that are flanked between double squared brackets – [[xxx]] – indicate content that was included in an earlier, shorter version of the letter. The shorter version was sent to Sheffield Telegraph on 1st May 2021, in response to a letter (by Mr Pickles), that appeared in Sheffield Telegraph (published online on 27th April 2021). See:
    https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/news/opinion/letters/letter-the-council-had-to-do-the-right-thing-because-they-had-no-other-option-3215814

    http://web.archive.org/web/20210428112832/https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/news/opinion/letters/letter-the-council-had-to-do-the-right-thing-because-they-had-no-other-option-3215814

    *****
    REFERENCES:

    1a)
    THE YORKSHIRE POST – Saturday, 10th March 2018

    ‘SHEFFIELD COUNCIL FORCED TO REVEAL TARGET TO REMOVE 17,500 STREET TREES UNDER PFI DEAL’:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20180310142931/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

    1b)
    ‘SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCE THE FELLING OF 17,500 STREET TREES’:
    https://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/news/sheffield-city-council-announce-felling-17500-street-ttees.html

    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/chris-packham-in-sheffield-to-see-for-himself/comment-page-1/#comment-2174

    2a)
    ‘VERY IMPORTANT TREE NEWS’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/12/01/a-review-of-some-publications-from-the-past/comment-page-1/#comment-2828

    2b)
    ‘2021 UPDATE: THE SCC SCRUTINY INVITATION & POLICING OPERATIONS – FOI DISCLOSURES’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/comment-page-1/#comment-5239

    3)
    In addition to the above references, see:

    ‘THE FELLING TARGET / QUOTA FOR THE £2.2BN ‘STREETS AHEAD’ HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE PROJECT (Amey PFI Contract)’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/latest-from-deepa-and-the-trees-campaign/comment-page-1/#comment-4081

    4)
    ‘SHEFFIELD TREE FELLING INVESTIGATION REPORT’ (by the Forestry Commission, dated 18th July 2019):
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alleged-illegal-tree-felling-investigation-report-sheffields-streets-ahead-programme

    ‘SELECTED EXTRACTS’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/05/09/breaking-news-leading-city-councillor-responsible-for-the-tree-felling-programme-has-resigned/comment-page-1/#comment-3744

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/foi_policing_sheffields_trees_pr#comment-89295

    5)
    Forestry Commission publications (2019) HIGHWAY TREE MANAGEMENT: OPERATIONS NOTE 51:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/highway-tree-management-operations-note-51

    http://web.archive.org/web/20210127043355/https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/highway-tree-management-operations-note-51

    Of interest:

    ‘TREE FELLING – DO YOU KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG?’
    (Forestry Commission Blog. See associated comments):
    https://forestrycommission.blog.gov.uk/2020/05/18/tree-felling-do-you-know-right-from-wrong/#comment-134

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200714022648/https://forestrycommission.blog.gov.uk/2020/05/18/tree-felling-do-you-know-right-from-wrong/

    6)
    ‘THE COUNCIL AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM HAVE EXISTING POLICY COMMITMENTS, TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE. See below.’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/latest-from-deepa-and-the-trees-campaign/comment-page-1/#comment-1435

    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/comment/484.html#comment-484

    See pages 162 (Appendix 3) of the letter that SORT sent to the SCC Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox), dated 29th January 2016 (distributed to every SCC Councillor as a hand-out, to accompany the Save Nether Edge Trees petition). There’s a kind of ‘index’ on pages 376 to 378. BTW, the letter prompted SCC to publish a fake contract document that was later used to mislead a High Court Judge (see reference 2a, above).

    Click to access SORT%20LETTER%20TO%20THE%20CABINET%20MEMBER%20FOR%20ENVIRONMENT%20AND%20TRANSPORT_29th%20January%2c%202016_v51.6_Corrected_1.pdf

    The letter was sent to COUNCILLOR TERRY FOX by e-mail. The e-mail included a contents page. You can find a copy of that e-mail on the archived Stocksbridge Community Forum website (scroll down to the entry made on 14th March 2016):
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/street-trees-3-month-ban-all-tree-felling-city

    7)
    UK ROADS LIAISON GROUP GUIDANCE ANNOUNCEMENT (2016): CODE OF PRACTICE ‘WELL-MANAGED HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE’:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190908132936/http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/codes/index.cfm

    ‘EXTRACTS FROM WELL-MAINTAINED HIGHWAYS – CODE OF PRACTICE’:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/latest-from-deepa-and-the-trees-campaign/comment-page-1/#comment-2197

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