Following more than two months of very detailed discussions between SCC, Amey and the STAG Steering Group, Sheffield City Council have announced a new approach to managing street trees within the 25 year ‘Streets Ahead’ highway management programme operated by Amey.
A joint statement by SCC, Amey and STAG can be seen here.
The scheme will see fewer trees felled and other condemned tree fellings ‘phased’ over the next 10 years. Amey have undertaken to implement a wider range of engineering approaches to retaining trees and ‘phased’ fellings will be reviewed before they take place. Amey and STAG will jointly investigate trees that are planned for felling, with the involvement of local residents and SCC will publish the outcome over the coming months.
STAG has not agreed to any particular plan or list of fellings as we believe it is down to local groups and individuals to assess the scheme on its merits. We are not a formal membership organisation but a forum for various informal local groups so we are not able to form agreements on behalf of the wider tree campaign.
Before the talks started, STAG had four main aims, based on consultation with tree campaigners across the city:
1. An end to the unnecessary felling of healthy mature trees.
SCC’s scheme goes part of the way towards achieving this and further work by Amey and STAG may improve the picture. We welcome the commitment to reviewing phased fellings, giving everyone a few years to reflect before most of the decisions must be enacted or changed. In the end, if Tree Campaigners feel that valuable trees are still being felled without good reason they will continue to oppose the work.
2. An exemplary Street Tree Management Strategy.
We welcome the plan to develop a new strategy over the next few months in collaboration with several partners and under the guidance of an independent chair with relevant expertise. This will be a great opportunity for public policy to be debated and for everyone to develop a better understanding of the complex issues. It will be a great success if Sheffield ends up with a strategy that has widespread approval and other parts of the country will want to adopt for themselves.
3. Using External Expertise.
We welcome the commitment to working together on assessing trees at risk and we hope that the new street tree strategy will provide a reliable framework for this. Amey have committed to involving STAG and local residents in their investigations and STAG will be bringing in external experts in engineering and tree management to inform the process.
4. An inquiry into what went wrong.
Given the many serious questions that have been raised about SCC processes and decisions over the past 10 years we regret that SCC do not wish to do this. We believe that learning from what has gone wrong is vital for the success of future projects in the city as well as being an opportunity for reconciliation between all parties involved in this difficult dispute.
The Schedule of retained trees and proposed phased fellings can be seen here. (Excel Spreadsheet)
Sheffield City Councils Press Statement about the nes scheme can be seen here.