Petition update


Deepa Shetty
Sheffield, ENG, United Kingdom

May 31, 2015 — Dear Head of Highways, Head of Planning and Chief of Highway Engineer,

Following the Tree Walk with Darren Butt, Ops Director of Amey, on Thursday 28.05.15, it has become evident that the reason for felling twelve healthy trees on Rustlings Road is kerb misalignment and undulation of the footway. When questioned as to the nature of the work planned, Mr Butt stated that it was not up to him to change standard specification in order to be more sympathetic to trees and that his job was to reinstate the kerb line.

Given that most of Sheffield’s highways are tree lined, and the majority of trees are affecting the pavements and kerb stones in the same way as those on Rustlings Rd, it would be both reasonable and sensible to adopt new policy. We request that new, improved, flexible, tree-friendly highway specification/s specifically for pavements (including kerbs) with existing trees are adopted, so as to retain as many larger trees as possible. In our opinion, this would represent a practicable approach to responsible and sustainable management of green infrastructure, with regard to existing, long-established street trees. By making such changes, managers would not be required to “engineer solutions for every tree”, as Jeremy Willis, Ops Manager of Amey, had stated would be impracticable on 27.05.15. The new standard specification would need to be draughted in accordance with current arboricultural best practice guidance and recommendations. Such an approach would be in accordance with current arboricultural best practice guidance and recommendations contained within various documents, including Trees in Towns 2: a new survey of urban trees in England and their condition and management, TDAG documents, and the NTSG publication Common Sense Risk Management of Trees: Guidance on trees and public safety in the UK for owners, managers and advisers.

Accordance with best practice does require valuation of ecosystem goods and services, and adopting suitable and appropriate policies and practice for the retention of trees currently growing in tree-lined streets. The street tree population is a major component of the urban forest (as defined by the UK Forestry Standard), and a major component of green infrastructure; its management requires, by necessity, policies and practice that ensure it is managed in a sustainable manner, in accordance with The UK Forestry Standard and the guidance, recommendations and advice contained within Trees in Towns 2.

There needs to be a strategy detailing policies, responsibilities, and proposals for sensitive and sustainable long term management of the tree population, with measures to ensure the safe retention of as many larger crowned trees as it is reasonably practicable to retain (see TDAG & NTSG). This assessment requires a cost: benefit analysis that takes account of the monetary value of the full range of ecosystem goods and services (including amenity) afforded by the trees, and their contribution locally, and at all other levels (city wide, county, nationally and globally). We would like to see such a strategy.

With regard to new planting: Mr Butt stated that the contract is to maintain the tree number of street trees at 36,000. Is there not room for negotiation of contract terms, to allow planting of young stock, as well as retention of the more valuable mature stock already on Sheffield’s streets?

Furthermore, The National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) advise the adoption of a common sense approach to the risk management of trees by policy makers and managers. They counsel against a disproportionate response, which is what we feel is happening on Rustlings Road and across Sheffield.

We also seek your assurance that all pavement and kerb works will be supervised on site by a competent arboriculturist (as defined by BS 5837 [2012] & BS 3998 [2010]), at all times and for the duration of all such works; and that relevant guidance and recommendations to protect tree roots during such works, as detailed in documents published by the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG), and contained within British Standard 5837 (2012), is specified and that compliance with such guidance is enforced. This request is to seek to ensure that accidental damage to the roots of trees that could/are to be retained is minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure that retained trees remain healthy in the long term.

Citizens do wish to have a say in decisions to their homes and neighbourhood. The spirit of national policy and the Trees in Towns 2 report demand community involvement: that means education, consultation & participation, as first officially outlined in Forestry Commission Handbook 5 (“Urban Forestry Practice”, published 1989). The same guidance also appears in the Trees in Towns 2 report, commissioned by the previous Labour government (published 2008).

We request that Sheffield City Council embrace a more common sense approach to Sheffield’s mature street trees and we respectfully request that you adopt policy and practice/s to re-engineer the roadside to accommodate trees, rather than fell the trees.

We further request a moratorium on the felling scheduled to take place on June 8th 2015, based on the fact that current highway engineering policy and practice is inadequate to accord with sustainable management of the urban forest resource (as defined within the UK Forestry Standard & the Trees in Towns 2 report, commissioned by the Labour Government), which, as mentioned previously, is a major component of green infrastructure.

We look forward to your prompt response

Yours sincerely

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