SHEFFIELD’S biggest ever programme to improve 36,000 street trees is under way – with pruning, maintenance and replacement work all being carried out.
The tree work is part of the £2 billion Streets Ahead programme and has already involved preliminary surveys to examine dangerous, dead or dying trees.
Fifteen to 20 trees have been classed as dangerous and removed so far – among 1,250 which are to be replaced in total.
Further more detailed surveys of the remaining trees will be carried out over the coming months to identify whether they require any work.
Steve Robinson, head of highway maintenance at the council, which is working with contractor Amey on the project, said: “Overall there are 36,000 highway trees and there are 1,250 across the city which we are taking out and replacing.
“In all areas where trees are being taken down – unless they are deemed dangerous and have to be removed immediately – members of the public are being informed via a notice on the tree and letters to neighbouring residents.
“We will be planting replacements straight away or in the next planting season, which runs from November to March.”
Mr Robinson said the replacement of dead and dying trees will be among an initial five-year phase, while maintenance and pruning of the remaining trees will be over the 25 years of the contract with Amey.
Tree surgeons will look to remove growth of branches around the lower trunk to keep roads and footpaths clear, while higher branches will be shaped.
Mr Robinson said: “No healthy trees will be removed unless absolutely necessary, such as if they are damaging properties or infrastructure or blocking pavements.”
In cases where roots are damaging pavements, workers will look at removing the offending root, or alternatives such as raising the pavement surface, he added.
Some 22 staff are working on the tree maintenance and renewal project.
New trees will come from a list of around 30 species, including ornamental, native and exotic species.
Mr Robinson said he would welcome residents’ views as the project progresses, and people living next to trees which are to be replaced should make their feelings known.
He said: “People can also go along to the Streets Ahead roadshows and ask questions about their street and species of trees.”
Mr Robinson added the felled timber and tree trunks would be made available for craftsmen, schools, or people working on projects with young people.
Coun Jack Scott, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “This is the biggest programme affecting Sheffield’s trees since they were planted in Victorian times.
“The aim is to make sure we have a much better tree landscape than before.”
Residents are also being encouraged to become ‘tree champions’ to look after species in their neighbourhoods and report any problems.
Anyone interested should call the council on 0114 2734567.
City’s street trees
Currently more than 100 species, most commonly ash, sycamore, cherry and lime.
Species being planted are in three categories: ornamental – cherry; native – oak, pine, birch, maple; exotic - cedar, redwood, Persian ironwood, tulip tree.
Species not being planted are ash, due to risk of ash dieback, and plane, because trees grow too large. Healthy existing planes will be retained unless causing an obstruction or damage.