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Street tree strategy: Report signals change in direction

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Sheffield will adopt a new Street Tree Strategy in 2020.

A Council report will detail fresh plans for the city's street trees ahead of a new Street Tree Strategy in 2020.

The new report says that the strategy will explore "long-term aims for street tree numbers and canopy cover, management and maintenance of the tree stock, and how communities can become more involved in the future."

Council officers will ask cabinet to approve the report on Wednesday. It follows the release of a joint statement by Amey, the Council and the Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) in December.

Amey have taken a new approach to street trees since the release of the joint statement.

Significant activity has been underway across the city to assess individual trees

Of the 309 trees that were due for maintenance work in 2019, 191 will now be "retained indefinitely." 26 other trees need a "bespoke solution" but are capable of being retained "in principle."

Only one tree of the 309 will be removed and replaced. A further 91 trees in this group have not yet been inspected. The new process is being funded by Amey.

The statement in December also announced the development of the new strategy. The group developing the strategy includes representatives from Amey, STAG and the Council.

The battle over the city's trees has damaged the Council's reputation in recent years. In May 2018, Environment Secretary Michael Gove accused the Council of "environmental vandalism."

"In recent months the Council has been working closely with both Amey and representatives of STAG to enable work on the Street Tree Strategy to begin," said Cabinet Member for the Environment Lewis Dagnall.

"Simultaneously, significant activity has been underway across the city to assess individual trees."

The Green Party said the report shows the need for "a fundamental re-think of the entire project."

"The report completely vindicates the view of Sheffield tree campaigners that thousands of healthy street trees have been unnecessarily felled in our city in recent years," said Green councillor Alison Teal.

"This SCC report follows more than six months of investigation by Amey and SCC as to whether hundreds of street trees slated for the chop in 2019 really need to be," she continued. "This report has proven they do not."

Cllr Dagnall defended the new approach taken since December.

"The availability of alternative solutions funded by Amey, combined with adjustments to the council's specification around some trees, has allowed us to make significant and positive progress, with the support of all parties," he said.

The development group will present a draft of the new strategy to cabinet in January.

Sam Gregory

Read the full report.

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The battle over street trees has proved damaging to the Council's reputation. Photo by Dai O'Nysius on Wikimedia Commons.

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