Crosspool Forum’s Open Meeting on Thursday 25 January at St Columba’s will start at 7pm.
Come along to give your concerns on local issues to local councillors, the police and Amey.
Provisional agenda for Crosspool Forum Open Meeting, 25 January 2018 (PDF, 530KB)
Minutes from previous Open Meetings
10 Replies to “Agenda for Thursday 25 January 2018 Open Meeting”
Can Clrs Murphy and Gamblie Pugh tell us why they refuse to condemn SCC/ Amey plan to fell 23 WW1 memorial trees on Western Rd?
COST OF SUSTAINABILITY
On 20th September, The Star reported on the potential cost of retaining street trees . An extortionate estimate of cost to retain trees was provided. Steve Robinson (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.”
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” .
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) , on 2nd February 2016, Amey released a “commercially sensitive” contract document . 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.”
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.”
At the second (most recent) meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Tree Advisory Forum (2/9/2015), Steve Robinson presented a list of 25 ideas – that could be used to retain trees. 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 . …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.”
On numerous occasions, the Council and Amey have asserted that they work to British Standard 5837 . The standard states:
“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…
Where alternative design solutions are not available… the potential impact of the proposals on the tree should be assessed, and a Tree Protection Plan and Arboricultural Method Statement produced.
[…] 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)
When I met Cllr Lodge (SCC’s Cabinet member for Environment & Streetscene), on 1st August 2016, he said that SCC HAD FINED AMEY OVER £2 MILLION 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. I was led to understand that the fine money was available and could be used specifically to retain trees .
In short, provided Amey honour their existing contractual commitments, and the Council’s Highways PFI Client Team provide adequate ON-SITE SUPERVISION, MONITORING, AND ENFORCEMENT of compliance with the range of current good practice guidance and recommendations that the Streets Ahead team claim to comply with [4 & 9], there is no reason why the majority of mature street trees currently scheduled for felling can’t be safely retained, long term. In law, and in practice, Sheffield City Council has sufficient discretion to insist on A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH to stewardship of the highway tree population and prevent further UNNECESSARY, AVOIDABLE LOSS AND IRREVERSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.
Time for SCC & Amey to start honouring existing policy commitments .
D.Long (BSc Hons Arb – former Highways), Sheffield.”
A LETTER THE STAR REFUSED TO PUBLISH
WW1 MEMORIAL TREES
“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 (@60x60cm sq) 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.”
STREET TREES & HIGHWAY RESURFACING
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.
D.Long (BSc Hons Arb. Former Highways)
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.
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”:
• “AMEY’S LEGAL OBLIGATION”:
• “THE COUNCIL’S COMMITMENT TO RETAIN MATURE HIGHWAY TREES”:
• “THE DISCRETION TO RETAIN MATURE TREES”:
A LETTER TO THE STAR (published)
Dated 24th July 2016
“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.”
DANGEROUS HIGHWAY TREES: a letter sent to The Star on 7/12/2016
“Recently, I have been contacted by citizens concerned that there has been a significant increase in the number of highway trees scheduled for felling on the basis that they are “dangerous” and have “structural integrity issues”. At first, I thought they must have misinterpreted information received. At the first of the two “bi-monthly” Highway Trees Advisory Forum (HTAF) meetings, on 23rd JULY, 2015, which I attended, Sheffield City Council’s HEAD OF HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE (Steve Robinson) informed:
‘We had a survey carried out by an independent firm in 2006/2007… So, IN LIGHT OF THAT, the Council, as part of its application to Government for THE STREETS AHEAD PROJECT, RECEIVED FUNDING TO MANAGE THE CITY’S HIGHWAY TREE STOCK. […]
*** So, our underinvestment and underfunding left us with a number of DEAD, DYING AND DANGEROUS trees. Some of you would be surprised that 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 – those trees that are damaging kerbs, pavements and drains. […] ****
So, JUST BECAUSE A TREE IS DISEASED DOESN’T MEAN TO SAY THAT THAT TREE NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. …whether it turns out to be dangerous… those judgements are made by tree people. …they have their budget to look after their trees. In terms of damaging… IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED.’
Curious to see these “dangerous” trees for myself, I have visited a couple of streets in different parts of the city to take a look. What I have discovered is shocking, but not surprising, given the fact that THERE HAS BEEN CONTINUED, WIDESPREAD NON-COMPLIANCE WITH AND DISREGARD FOR A RANGE OF CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE BY SCC & AMEY. It would appear that TREES THAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN MAINTAINED BY PRUNING ARE BEING CLASSED AS “DANGEROUS”, on the basis that regrowth could break loose. Such trees can and should be safely retained, long-term, by use of the range of British Standard pruning operations that the Save Our Roadside trees Sheffield Tree Action Group have detailed previously, in a letter dated 29th January 2016 (see Appendix 4). The letter (available online) was distributed to every Councillor in the city, as a Nether Edge Petition hand-out. TO CLASS ALL SUCH TREES AS “DANGEROUS” IS WHAT I WOULD EXPECT FROM A “ROGUE TRADER” and not what should be expected of reasonably skilled, competent arboriculturists.
The National Tree Safety Group guidance is particularly apt:
‘WITH INADEQUATE UNDERSTANDING, so-called defects may be erroneously confused with hazards and, furthermore, hazards with risk – so unless the risk of harm arising from a hazard is properly taken account of, MANAGEMENT CAN BE SERIOUSLY MISINFORMED, POTENTIALLY LEADING TO COSTLY AND UNNECESSARY INTERVENTION.’
In April 2013, The Star reported:
‘THE COUNCIL SAID IT WOULD NOT REPLACE TREES WHERE PLANTING A NEW TREE WOULD BE CHEAPER THAN PRUNING THE EXISTING SPECIES.’
In October 2015, Amey’s Operations Manager for the Streets Ahead project (Jeremy Willis) stated:
‘IT IS MORE COSTLY TO FELL AND REPLACE A TREE THAN MAINTAIN IT IN THE CURRENT POSITION.’
In December 2015, he stated:
‘IF IT IS FELT THAT THE TREE COULD BE SAVED BY PRUNING AND MAINTAINING IT THEN THAT IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN.’
Mature trees accounted for 73.8% of all highway trees (25,877) at the start of the Streets Ahead project (in 2012). Most have been previously pruned and are associated with minor damage to the built environment. If citizens are unwilling to permit Amey to fell most mature highway trees, perhaps it is time to call in Matt Allwright of BBC’s Watchdog?
D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield”.
Please remember that Sheffield City Council and Amey both claim (falsely) that felling is a last resort. See:
“THE COUNCIL’S COMMITMENT TO RETAIN MATURE HIGHWAY TREES”
“THE DISCRETION TO RETAIN MATURE TREES”
“THE COUNCIL AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM HAVE EXISTING POLICY COMMITMENTS, TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE. See below.”
“FELLING: SCC/AMEY INCOMPETENCE AND DECEIT”
“NO EXTRA COST” IDEAS TO RETAIN MATURE STREET TREES”
“A LETTER TO THE STAR” (FlexiPave)
“FLEXI®-PAVE – SCC / AMEY IGNORANCE & DECEIT”
“LETTER: From SCCs Chief Executive to NICK CLEGG – OVER 4yrs IN TO A £2.2 bn PROJECT & NO ALTERNATIVE HIGHWAY ENGINEERING SPECIFICATIONS DRAFTED”:
Click to access LETTER%20From%20SCCs%20Chief%20Executive%20to%20Nick%20Clegg%20MP%20-%20OVER%204yrs%20IN%20TO%20A%20%C2%A32.2%20bn%20PROJECT%20%26%20NO%20ALTERNATIVE%20HIGHWAY%20ENGINEERING%20SPECIFICATIONS%20DRAFTED.pdf
CRITERIA USED TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT TO FELL (INCLUDING EXCERPTS FROM DAVE CAULFIELD’S WITNESS STATEMENT TO THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE):
Click to access 6Ds_SCC%20%26%20AMEY%20HIGHWAYS%20INFRASTRUCTURE%20ASSESSMENT%20CRITERIA%20-%20LICENCE%20TO%20KILL_1.pdf
A LETTER TO THE STAR: THE UNEDITED VERSION
(An edited version was published in The Star on 8th August, 2016. UPPER case to highlight parts that the editor of The Star either omitted from the published version, or changed.)
TREE POPULATION MANAGEMENT BY NUMBERS (“Impact Assessment”)
“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)
Forestry Commission, 2011. The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management. 3rd ed (4th ed published 6th July 2017). http://www.forestry.gov.uk/ukfs
“Campaigners fighting tree felling in Sheffield have been calling for a city-wide tree strategy – but documents reveal one was drafted 14 years ago. …A consultation document for Sheffield’s Tree and Woodland Strategy seen by The Star, which was printed in 2001*, said
‘SHEFFIELD IS BLESSED WITH ONE OF THE FINEST URBAN FORESTS IN THE COUNTRY’ and ‘trees affect everyone’s lives.’ […]
The council did not say why the strategy had not been adopted.”
Beardmore, E., 2015. ‘Still room for compromise’ over Sheffield trees debate – says former MP David Blunkett.
* Lewis, D., Sellwood, N. & Page, M., 2001. Sheffield’s Tree and Woodland Strategy • Consultation Document. Sheffield: Sheffield City Council.
Click to access Lewis%20et%20al_The%202001%20Document%20That%20SCC%20Ignored%20%26%20Rejected_treewoodlandstrategy-scc.pdf
If you would like to learn more about the SCC/Amey approach to tree population management, please see the following:
Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007:
Click to access Elliott_SCC_Highway%20Tree%20Survey%202006-07.pdf
FELLING: SCC/AMEY INCOMPETENCE AND DECEIT (How SCC & Amey get it so wrong):
“STREET TREE MASSACRE” – a response to Cllr Peter Price:
THE GREAT SHEFFIELD CHAINSAW MASSACRE – A Response to Louise Haigh MP: