I read that Sheffield has around 36,000 highway trees which help to make our city the greenest in Britain. But as I walk around west Sheffield I notice that about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the trees are mature or older. It seems to me that some time in the future most of the trees will begin to die together and we will be left with a much barer and poorer streetscene until replacement saplings grow towards their maturity.
What is needed is a highway tree strategy to manage the process.
This would replace trees as they get older over a 20 – or 30-year timespan, so that tree replacement would not be intrusive and our tree-lined roads would change slowly.
It seems to me that the Amey/council, Streets Ahead project is using their five-year core work programme to replace the trees in advance of what would be a sensible 20 – to 30-year phased programme and is using minor kerbing and pavement issues as a pretext to destroy healthy trees when alternative highway works could be overcome the minor problems.
No one is saying leave diseased trees or leave those older trees that are creating highway or pavement hazards.
But a good highway tree strategy would focus on how to manage a 25-year highway tree replacement programme not to cull trees to fit into a five-year road and pavement renewal programme and the following 20-year maintenance programme.
It seems to me that the Amey/Streets Ahead road renewal programme timescale is fundamentally at odds with the ideal tree replacement programme. And the trees are losing out.
Sheffield City Council needs to rethink its contract with Amey about the timescales to minimise these conflicts.
There will be costs associated with such a strategy but the council should have thought of that when negotiating the contract and maybe now have to accept that having a better environment and additional disruption will have a cost worth paying to keep our city a green and a pleasant place to live in.
Perhaps if the council had been more open about these timescale issues and consulted and resolved them earlier they wouldn’t be encountering the problems that are being seen currently with the Rustlings Road campaign and which will soon spread, no doubt, to Nether Edge and elsewhere as the Amey/council/Streets Ahead programme is rolled out.
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