SORT letter to Sheffield City Council

Save the Rustlings Road Trees

“SORT letter14th July 2015 – SORT (‘Save Our Rustlings Trees’, which later became ‘Save Our Roadside Trees’) wrote a 32 page letter addressed to Cllr. Terry Fox, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport.  It was sent to all Councillors before the SORT petition was presented to Full Council in July 2015. A second letter [19MB] was sent in January 2016 prior to the presentation of the Save Nether Edge Trees petition.

SORT’s letter highlights the need for SCC to formally adopt and implement a comprehensive Tree Strategy as Council policy. It explains, in detail, the ways and means by which SCC could fulfil its policy commitments and statutory duties, and comply with current good practice guidelines.

What SORT’s letter advocates

1) the recognition of the valuable contribution that street trees make, by way of the range and magnitude of beneficial ecosystem services (and in some cases goods) they afford to communities and the built environment;

2) the importance of and necessity to apply the precautionary principle.

3) the importance of and necessity for the Council to adopt a tree strategy as Council policy, to help guide and inform policy and management decisions: thus helping ensure policy and persons responsible and most directly involved support, promote, and enhance responsible and sustainable management of the urban forest resource – in particular, street trees (with their medium and large crowns, they are a significant component of green infrastructure.)

4) the necessity to ensure that hazard and risk assessment and management is reasonable, balanced, proportionate and takes in to account all the circumstances of each case: so as to comply with current arboricultural best practice; current guidance and recommendations of the Health and Safety Executive; the international forestry principles and criteria set out in The UK Forestry Standard and its Guidelines, and other international and national legislation and policy commitments.

5) the importance of and necessity for competent arboriculturists (defined by British Standards 5837 [2012] and 3998 [2010].

6) the necessity for current arboricultural best practice with regard to works in close proximity to street trees, and solutions for the long-term safe retention of long-established trees: at least to the safe, useful life expectancy of the species concerned (and possibly beyond).

7 ) the necessity for an informed, strategic approach to the identification and assessment of hazards and risks by competent inspectors: inspectors with education, training and experience relevant to the matter being addressed and an understanding of the requirements of the particular task.

The Council’s response to SORT’s letter

Sheffield City Council did make a commitment to produce a Tree Strategy within a set time frame. SORT were told by Cllr. Fox that this document would be ready by March 2016.
More than two years on, and despite reminders, we are still waiting for this to be published!
Since SORT’s 32-page letter lays out much of the ethical, legal and practical groundwork for a comprehensive Tree Strategy, SCC were in a well-placed position to produce this document on time.
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