Sunday 28 May 2017

Feeling tree-ish

Today I stumbled onto a worrying example from Sheffield, which shows how easily a heavy-handed city council can effectively unleash an army of 'jobsworth' workers to cut down thousands of the city's healthy trees. Worrying partly because it's a city very similar to the Potteries, in terms of mature tree cover, terrain and size. Apparently the lopping and chopping has been ongoing there ever since Sheffield's LibDems/Labour council introduced it in 2007. They handed the task off to an army of Amey plc contractors, heavy-handedly supported by police, in the hope of slashing their ongoing costs in maintaining the trees. Also in the hope of preventing the council from being sued, by people claiming to have tripped over pavement tree-roots.

Some 3,000 trees, almost all healthy, have been cut down in the city, and as of spring 2016 it was reported that...

"Campaigners fear[ed] some 75% of the city's 36,000 roadside trees are at risk"

It's hard not to see this as yet another tragic aspect of how 'health and safety' is used as a cloak for other agendas. The ongoing attack on Sheffield's trees are apparently now a major election issue, in what today is a Labour-controlled city. Currently they want to cut town an avenue of commemorative trees planted to honour those who fought in the First World War.

In the face of such an aggressive and sustained attack on the trees of a whole city (and another very worrying example from Labour-controlled Birmingham) you have to wonder if the Conservative election manifesto pledge on street trees should have been a bit more beefy...

"... we will ensure that 1 million more [trees] are planted in our towns and cities, and place new duties on councils to consult when they wish to cut down street trees."

That's certainly welcome, but a bit vague. It should also extend to mature trees in parks, and on paths or on other open land. Not just to trees along streets. It might also specify the types of trees to be planted in cities, and announce there will be new research on how their early years can best be protected. Possibly there could also be something to deter people from suing a council over tree roots, although I vaguely seem to remember that something may already have been done about that under the excellent Mr. Pickles.

Most of the other parties have nothing to say in their manifestos about urban and street trees, I checked. LibDems, nothing on trees. Labour, a million new trees planted on farms. Laughably, a search for the word "trees" or "tree" shows no results in the Green Party manifesto, which these days seems more concerned with far-left posturing. UKIP has a sensible idea, though...

"UKIP will amend planning legislation to promote inclusion of trees and open space into new developments."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks! Comments get held for approval, but I hope to post yours soon!