Work to retain dozens of street trees in Sheffield, which were previously earmarked for replacement, will get under way tomorrow following talks between Sheffield City council, Amey and STAG.
Of more than 300 trees originally earmarked for replacement, almost 90 will now be retained indefinitely and many more could also be retained, subject to the outcome of detailed on-street assessments.
The work is the first stage of a new approach to managing the city’s street trees following mediated talks between Sheffield City council, its highways contractor Amey and members of Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG).
Tomorrow, Amey will begin to carry out detailed technical inspections on several street trees with the co-operation of members of STAG. Importantly no trees will be removed there and then, but those that are found to be immediately dangerous or obstructive will be scheduled for replacement as soon as possible.
The inspections will be carried out by a dedicated team of specially trained and equipped tree and highways specialists. Members of STAG will be in attendance and local residents will be kept informed.
Amey Streets Ahead Account Director, Darren Butt, is keen to emphasise that no trees will be removed during the inspections, but the team could carry out highways alterations immediately if these will result in the tree being retained.
Darren said: “The additional funding being provided by Amey will allow us to use new and existing engineering treatments in a much more flexible way, monitor trees closely and re-apply treatments where possible. As a result, we should be able to retain trees for an indefinite period as long as the highway remains at a good standard.
“Our inspection team will be made up of trained and experienced tree and highways professionals equipped with specialist tools, and will receive independent input from STAG.
“The team itself will not remove any tree but has authority to carry out immediate highway remedial work to safeguard the tree, when required. If inspections are planned on a tree near to your home, we will contact you beforehand to let you know.
“Crucially, we will still be delivering the long-term benefits of the Streets Ahead contract at no extra cost to Sheffield’s taxpayers.”
Cabinet member for environment and street scene at Sheffield City council, Councillor Lewis Dagnall said:
“Back in December, following a series of mediated talks between the council, Amey and STAG, we announced that on street inspections would start in the New Year, with a view to retaining as many trees as possible.
“The inspections are the first step in what we hope to be a promising year for the city’s street trees, where we will see a large proportion of trees, including the Vernon Oak and the majority of memorial trees, retained. We will also start work on a new street tree strategy in the first half of this year.
“Amey will be working closely with residents and stakeholders to ensure that people with street trees outside their homes are kept informed of plans.
“We’re optimistic that by adopting a more collaborative approach, we will achieve a way forward which is beneficial for the entire city.”
Paul Selby of STAG said:
“We welcome this new collaborative approach, which we believe will increase the number of trees that can be indefinitely retained, at the same time as increasing our understanding of the reasons why Amey and Sheffield City council say some trees cannot be retained. We encourage residents to come out and see the inspections taking place, if they are able to, to maximise the transparency of the work being done.”
As the results of the inspections become known, Amey will liaise with affected communities and members of STAG on the best way forward for any trees that may need to remain in the tree replacement programme.
Amey is also pledging to plant an additional 12,000 extra trees for community groups, during the contract period, and will release details of how people can apply for these later in the year.
A joint position statement, agreed between all parties, alongside individual street-by-street proposals, to be discussed with residents, can be found on the council’s website at: www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/sheffield/home/roads-pavements/managing-street-trees.html