Let’s address the facts on under-threat street trees

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I am writing in response to letters sent by Councillor Peter Price, and published in the Star on July 6 and July 29.

Coun Peter Price mentions a number of “facts” in both his letters so let’s address them: 19,425 mature trees are earmarked for felling under the Streets Ahead contract.

Fact: 10.000 are highway trees. Many will be healthy but disrupting the smoothness of pavements in Sheffield City Council’s view.

Fact: SCC do have discretion and are not as tied by Highway Regulations as they keep saying.

Fact: Saplings are not a replacement for mature trees.

Fact:25 per cent of saplings die.

Fact: Saplings absorb pollution and carbon at a small fraction (1/50th) of the rate of large, mature trees.

Fact: Rustlings Road had a lot more than 30 trees once but they surreptitiously removed or destroyed over the years, with SCC only now bowing to public pressure to put nine extra saplings back while destroying 11 mature, healthy ones.

Fact: The 11 trees on Rustlings Road due for felling in September, are healthy, are around 115 years old and have hundreds of years’ life left.

Fact: No arboriculturist worth their salt would describe any tree as “nearing the end of their lives” – they would not use this terminology.

Fact: Coun Price quotes in his letter, July 6, and again now, from an independent assessment in 2006, which refers to our highway trees. It apparently states: “…around 75 per cent are nearing the end of their lives…”

It does not. It actually says: “…a large proportion of the mature and over-mature trees (75 per cent of the stock) are now ready for replacement…”

Perhaps some trees are ready for replacement – but this action should not squeezed into a two-year period to meet contract needs for Amey and investors – it needs to meet the needs of the Sheffield people.

It is also a matter of opinion if they are due for replacement. Be it a professional opinion or not.

That is why it is vital that we use arboriculturists who are entirely neutral.

In Coun Peter Price’s letter, July 6, a criticism was levelled at the Save Our Rustlings Trees (SORT) campaigners.

Coun Price said that the SORT campaigners should have let those who have signed the petition know about the additional nine saplings being given to Rustlings Road – so it will make 39 trees instead of 30.

We would have done so, if SCC had bothered to communicate the information instead of holding off disclosure until they could score political brownie points at a full council meeting on July 1.

Coun Price also constantly raises in his letter of July 6, about “…roots lifting pavements, making them dangerous for the blind, the elderly, disabled or people pushing pram (sic)…”

This is simple scaremongering.

For example, the 93-year – old father of an NHS England Clinical Advisor who lives on Rustlings Road, and who has severe mobility and vision issues, uses the trees to orientate himself and he wishes to keep them.

SORT also knows of runners with severe visibility issues who choose to run the road because they find it a pleasant one to use.

In addition, many of us have witnessed double-pram buggies going down the Rustlings Road pavements and the fathers and mothers pushing the buggies, have stopped to sign our petition.

In fact, even two motor scooters for the disabled can sit side by side on the pavement.

The pavements on this road are very wide indeed – leaving plenty of space for the trees and the pedestrians.

Work must be put into using sensitive engineering solutions to keep as many mature trees as possible – and not just to meet the needs of draconian notions of smoothness and Highways regulations.

We applaud SCC for finally committing to a citywide tree strategy, that will include highway trees, but it will not be published until March 2016.

In the meantime, Sheffield’s mature trees are at risk of disproportionate felling.

SORT Supporter

Name and address supplied

I take the Star every day and I am not at all surprised at the number of letters you have received showing how much people love the trees but am shocked at the response of Sheffield City Council.

When I was at school, 80 years ago, we were taught a poem called Trees by Joyce Kilmer, who was a young American poet whose life was cut short by the First World War at 31 years of age.

He loved nature and his poem which I have enclosed shows how much.

His poem, much later, was set to music, it was lovely.

Trees

by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Dorothy Canning

Graham Road, Sheffield, S10