We have asked Sheffield City Council and Amey to work together with us, local partners and communities, using mediation if necessary, to develop and deliver an agreed, 20-year partnership Street Tree Strategy for Sheffield that will:
- Retain the more distinctive, individual street trees, investing in their future management, e.g. the Chelsea Road Elm Tree and the Vernon Oak
- Consider a longer-term rotational approach to felling and replanting important tree-lined avenues, such as Rivelin Valley Road
- Not use ‘lack of funds’ as the sole reason to fell a ‘difficult’ tree – by allowing funds from other non-Council sources to be used to contribute to the management and engineering solutions for these trees
As well as:
- Promote wildlife and biodiversity, achieving a net biodiversity gain
- Engage the local community and supports community cohesion
- Contribute to addressing air pollution and health inequalities across the city
- Contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to the impacts of climate change, including flood protection and city cooling
- Increases the general understanding of the need to manage and value street trees
- Restore or increase the urban canopy cover, with additional, appropriate planting of new urban trees
- Identify and secure additional support and resources for the planting and management of urban trees across a partnership of public, private and community sectors
We fully support the Council’s proposed talks with STAG to start in the autumn, with mediation, and have offered to be involved if it helps facilitate our requests as set out above.
We accept that there is a need for tree management across the city’s road network for the following reasons:
- Previous lack of ongoing ‘little and often’ maintenance or lack of ongoing removal and replacement, resulting in the need for a much greater, large scale tree management project today.
- Trees can become unsafe, branches can fall, roots uplift pavements and go into drains and foundations etc. Road and pavement safety are important and we recognise that people do sue the Council if they are injured or have an accident as a result of poor maintenance.
- Historically tree were planted for their aesthetic value as much as anything, lime trees being the most favoured by the Victorians. If left unmanaged, these trees can mature to great heights requiring a significant root structure to support them. This is not a problem on wide streets with wide pavements but in the more narrow roads this can be a real issue for the less mobile or people with pushchairs etc.
- Increasingly some of our best-loved tree species are becoming susceptible to disease that is having a devastating impact across the country. As we feel more and more the effects of climate change, we need an urban forest that can be both resilient and support our native wildlife. New planting and replacements are required, for example as Ash Dieback (Chalara) starts to kill our ash trees, or as new Dutch Elm Disease resistant strains of Elm become available.
- Removal of a tree should always be the last resort and not seen as an opportunity to save on future maintenance costs.
- In accordance with the NERC Act’s Biodiversity Duty on all Councils, every effort should be made to retain trees that are identified as being of significant wildlife value. For example the Huntingdon Elm tree in Nether Edge which supports a priority species, the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.
- Mature trees, especially those with large canopies offer many important benefits to people: clean air, noise reduction, flood alleviation, carbon storage. The overall impact of the loss of this amount of mature wood canopy/volume from across the city during the last few years has not been considered or mitigated against.
- Mature trees are fantastic wildlife habitats for bats and other protected species. Protected species surveys must be undertaken well in advance of any tree removal and appropriate measures be taken to protect any species found. Works should be undertaken outside of bird nesting time (March – August) to avoid the illegal damage or destruction of bird nests in use or being built, bird eggs and their young.