With the second meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum fast approaching, now is a good time to remind people of why it exists.
When it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they represented a trip hazard, an active campaign to challenge policy sprang in to action (SORT). Full details can be found online at Prof Ian Rotherham’s Blog (August section).
Campaigners demanded a stop to all non-urgent felling until a tree strategy had been drafted in accordance with current best practice and adopted as council policy.
After a month, in response to a 10,000 signature petition, the Labour council agreed to produce a tree strategy. At this point, the council claimed that such trees had to be felled, in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equalities Act, as they were “discriminatory”: claiming they hinder accessibility and mobility.
The council claimed felling was a reasonable response, as required by the Acts, and that there were no other reasonably practicable solutions. For every tree felled, just ONE is planted.
Between August 2012 and July 2015, 2,019 street trees were felled. The felling continues until 2018.
FOI request responses have revealed that the council and Amey have only one set of highway engineering specifications, used for all streets, regardless of whether or not there are existing trees: no alternative specifications have been commissioned or drafted.