Sheffield City Council has acknowledged the need for a new phased approach to street tree replacement as a result of the ongoing controversy over tree felling.
The council, the contractor Amey, and representatives from Sheffield Trees Action Group (STAG) have agreed that around a third of the 305 trees earmarked for replacement during the first five years of the Streets Ahead programme can be saved.
The city council’s felling and replacement contract with Amey has led to 5,500 trees being chopped down over the last six years.
During the talks, it was agreed that healthy street trees should only be replaced if no other practical solution can be found. The council has also confirmed that there is no target for the removal of trees.
The extra costs associated with retaining or phasing trees will be met in full by Amey, and there will be no additional cost to the Sheffield taxpayer.
A new street tree strategy will be developed during the first part of 2019 with a wide range of stakeholders and with the support of an independent chair.
Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for environment and street scene, Cllr Lewis Dagnall said: ‘What I have heard is that whilst many people value investment in our highways, its implications for street trees were too much, too soon, in some parts of the city.
‘There was a feeling that proposals to replace mature trees with smaller trees in one process would have immediately changed the face of some streets.
‘Our new proposal for compromise will see a large proportion of trees, including the Vernon Oak and the majority of memorial trees, retained.
‘Future tree replacement work will also be done in a way which only removes a small number of trees at any one time, as far as possible, which will mean the character of streets won’t be altered in the way that was previously feared.
‘Amey will now lead on a piece of work which involves speaking to local residents, on the streets affected, about the proposals. Their specialist tree team will soon start to carry out inspection and possible retention work on the trees, with a hope of retaining and phasing as many as possible. All resurfacing work on the affected streets will be completed during 2019.’
Image: Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com.