Save Street Trees in Heeley, Meersbrook, Newfield Green and Gleadless, Sheffield
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We, the undersigned, refute the assertion that the felling of over 30 trees in Heeley and many more in the neighbouring districts of Meersbrook and Newfield Green in Sheffield is necessary.
We demand, and believe it imperative that sensitive, alternative highway engineering specifications for footway, kerb and drain (1) be adopted and implemented to enable the long-term retention of these trees.
As such, we request that no further street trees are felled in Heeley, Gleadless, Newfield Green or Meersbrook unless they can be independently verified as being dangerous, dead or dying beyond any reasonable chance of survival.
Evidence indicates that such large trees contribute significantly to local climate regulation (2), filtration of atmospheric pollutants (3), sustainable urban drainage (4), biodiversity (5), ecology (6): health and wellbeing (7) and amenity (8); through their beauty and our pleasure of its enjoyment, which enriches our lives.
So far, between August 2012 and January 2016 over 3500 trees have been felled across the city. Sheffield City Council argue that the trees are damaging the pavements and roads and are therefore are "dangerous and/or discriminatory to disabled people and those using pushchairs". We believe the damage is minor and does not significantly hinder access or mobility, or use by people with disabilities, prams or pushchairs. It is our opinion that sensitive, alternative highway engineering specifications, such as pavement restructuring and localised remediation near trees, with kerb stones sculpted to accommodate root morphology, would represent a sustainable solution to perceived problems, enable the safe long-term retention of mature trees, preserve valuable ecosystem service benefits, and prevent irreversible environmental degradation. We would like a relaxation of kerb specifications and the use of flexipave to enable the safe retention of these trees.
Loss of these trees would represent a significant loss of a valuable foraging resource for bees, bats, owls and many other insects and birds, and will negatively impact on the emotional wellbeing of Sheffield’s residents. Lines could be painted on the road to prevent parking under trees, thereby minimising the risk of damage to vehicles, to a level firmly within the “broadly acceptable region” of tolerability (9).
SCC and Amey have pledged to plant small ornamental trees to "replace" the mature trees. Such trees have a smaller crown at maturity and significantly shorter useful life expectancy. It is impossible for saplings to provide the magnitude of valuable ecosystem services that mature trees can. Some of these trees are over 100 years old. We need and request a responsible, sustainable approach to management of the city-wide tree population – the “urban forest”, as agreed by European Ministers in 1993 (2). We urgently need a Tree Strategy. Each land-use context requires a sub-strategy of its own to guide and inform decisions.
The precautionary principle applies: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” (10)
In addition EU Directive 2001/42/EC requires: “…the preservation, protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources and that it is to be based on the Precautionary Principle”
The Council should adopt a consistent and transparent strategic approach to assessment: an approach that permits appropriate, adequate, balanced assessments by competent people, with the assessments used to inform decisions, ensure that they are defendable and help temper a destructive, risk-averse approach. If they cannot afford to do this (e.g. valuations; cost:benefit analyses; risk assessments & analyses), the precautionary principle must apply.
Furthermore, to avoid liability and meet legal duties, all the council is required to do is to ensure their acts and omissions are “reasonable”: i.e. compliance with good practice, including the aforementioned approach, taking in to consideration all circumstances of the case. (11)
Sub-veteran, mature trees represent our cultural heritage (12) and are irreplaceable. We request that sensitive, alternative highway engineering specifications be implemented as an alternative to felling.
Amey have stated:
“One of the AIMS of the Streets Ahead project is to retain healthy trees wherever possible.
…A new tree can never replace a mature specimen.
… If it is felt that the tree could be saved by pruning and maintaining it then that is what will happen.
…we are committed to retaining, maintaining and investing in the city’s tree stock for future generations”*
Streets Ahead Customer Services stated:
“The Streets Ahead project aims to work to best industry practice and guidelines … improving our processes and building industry good practise.”**
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport has stated before full Council:
“Taking the tree is the last resort, Lord Mayor.”***
The SCC Head of Highway Maintenance has stated:
“If an engineering solution can be applied, then it will be applied. …and a tree is removed as a last resort.”†
The Director of Regeneration and Development - leader of the trees strand of the Streets Ahead project - has stated:
“…removal of any highway tree is always the last resort…”‡
* e-mail from Jeremy Willis (Operations Manager: Amey): Ref: 101002355831
** e-mail: Ref: 101002358788
*** An assertion made by Cllr Fox on 1st July, 2015, at the meeting of full Council in Sheffield Town Hall.
† Comments made on 23rd July, 2015, at the inaugural meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum, by Steve Robinson.
‡Comment by David Caulfield, in Beardmore, E., 2015h. TREES: New council chief to lead Sheffield felling confirmed after secret recording apology. [Online] Available at: http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/trees-new-council-chief-to-lead-sheffield-felling-confirmed-after-secret-recording-apology-1-7530838 [Accessed 22 October 2015].
1) Trees and Design Action Group. (2014) Trees in Hard Landscapes: A Guide for Delivery. TDAG http://www.tdag.org.uk/trees-in-hard-landscapes.html
2) Forestry Commission (2011). The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management. 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Forestry Commission. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/ukfs
3) Karl, T., Harley, P., Emmons, L., Thornton, B., Guenther, A., Basu, C., & Jardine, K. (2010). Efficient atmospheric cleansing of oxidized organic trace gases by vegetation. Science, 330(6005), 816-819.http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6005/816.short
Escobedo, F., Kroeger, T. & Wagner, J. (2011). Urban forests and pollution mitigation: analyzing ecosystem services and disservices. Environmental Pollution, Volume 159, pp. 2078-2087.http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cluster=14928633190131047233&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5
4) Trees and Design Action Group (2012). Trees in the Townscape: A Guide for Decision Makers, s.l.: Trees and Design Action Group.http://www.tdag.org.uk/trees-in-the-townscape.html
Construction Industry Research and Information Association, 2013. CIRIA Research Project RP993: Demonstrating the multiple benefits of SuDS – A business case (Phase 2). Draft Literature Review. [Online] Available at: http://www.susdrain.org [Accessed 25 May 2015].http://www.susdrain.org/files/resources/ciria_guidance/ciria_rp993_literature_review_october_2013_.pdf
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Gilbert-Norton, L., Wilson, R., Stevens, J. R., & Beard, K. H. (2010). A Meta Analytic Review of Corridor Effectiveness. Conservation Biology, 24(3), p. 660-668. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01450.x/full
6) Gonzalez, A., Rayfield, B., & Lindo, Z. (2011). The disentangled bank: how loss of habitat fragments and disassembles ecological networks. American Journal of Botany, 98(3), p. 503-516.http://www.amjbot.org/content/98/3/503.full
7) Sarajevs, V. (2011). Health Benefits of Street Trees, Farnham: Forest Research. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-8JCEJH
Williams, K., O'Brien, L. & Stewart, A.. (2013). Urban health and urban forestry: how can forest management agencies help?. Arboricultural Journal: The International Journal of Urban Forestry, Volume 35, pp. 119-133.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03071375.2013.852358
8) Shackell, A. & Walter, R. (2012). Greenspace Design For Health And Well-being, Edinburgh: Forestry Commission.http://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/FCPG019.pdf/$FILE/FCPG019.pdf
Velarde, M., Fry, G. & Tveit, M. (2007). Health effects of viewing landscapes – Landscape types in environmental psychology. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Volume 6, p. 199-212.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1618866707000416
9) The National Tree Safety Group. (2011). Common Sense Risk Management of Trees: Guidance on trees and public safety in the UK for owners, managers and advisers. Forestry Commission Stock Code: FCMS024 ed. Edinburgh: Forestry Commission.http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/publications.nsf/searchpub/?SearchView&Query=(FCMS024)&SearchOrder=4&SearchMax=0&SearchWV=TRUE&SearchThesaurus=TRUE
10) Joint Nature Conservation Committee - http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=2519
11) Health and Safety Executive. ALARP Guidance. http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/theory/alarpglance.htm
12) de Groot, R., Alkemade, J., Braat, L. & Hein, L. (2010). Challenges in integrating the concept of ecosystem services and values in landscape planning, management and decision making. Ecological Complexity, Volume 7, p. 260–272. http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cluster=17957884838351513211&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5
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