Other city causes worth looking at

Am I the only one who is heartily sick of the tree saving campaign?

Friday, 22nd January 2016, 6:17 am
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2016, 6:19 am
Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield

The environmentalist lobby seems to have pushed it as far as it can go and now I am receiving emails from politicians advocating joining the cause.

I presume they see votes in it – I can see no other reason why they would chose to ignore the obvious.

Let’s take a step back and try to be rational. The roads and pavements of Sheffield are a disgrace.

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A relative from Lancashire when planning to visit asked if we were ‘still driving on those third world roads in Sheffield’ – hardly an endorsement.

Trees have very long roots which can stretch twice as far as their canopy. They are also attracted by water which they actively seek.

In consequence over a period of time paving stones get shoved out of position, tarmac gets cracked and holed, and drains, and in extreme cases foundations, can be penetrated.

Now we all love a good old tree, don’t we? Even the scabby looking limes on Rustlings Road, the beauty of which wasn’t greatly enhanced by the coloured blankets, scarfs, tinsel, streamers, children’s letters, pleas for mercy and other multitudinous paraphernalia in which they were until recently swathed.

However there is need sometimes to take a practical viewpoint and I think we might have just about reached that point.

There is no case to say that in Sheffield trees prevent ‘heave’. The city is built on seven hills and if water is good at one thing, it’s running downhill.

I hear a shout from the back that they help keep the air clean and I’m sure they do their bit in that context. However we have a lot of trees in parkland and in non-nuisance locations that I think can cover these bases.

Also I’m sure you have noticed we don’t suffer a lot of smog these days and since there is now little or no heavy industry within the city limits the chance of heavy duty aerial pollution reappearing is not great.

It might also be noted that the trees the Victorians planted to clean up London were plane trees, imported, I believe, from Spain.

These trees actually dispose of the toxins in the air by shedding their bark; leaves don’t really come into it to any great degree.

I worked in the city, in steel, for nearly 40 years so I do recognise pollution. I don’t however remember seeing any vast amounts of plane trees in the city.

A final couple of points on this subject. Sheffield Council appear to have had the ability to take a correct decision genetically bred out of them over many decades, but on this one subject they have got it dead right.

Don’t trust me, take a walk down the hill roads running parallel with Ecclesall road south.

The drainage and sewer pipes appear to have been replaced, the roads properly asphalted, the kerbs straightened, the pavements re-laid so they are at least fairly flat, and the unsightly and diseased old trees removed and replaced by healthy young saplings, which to my untutored eye appear to be flourishing.

The council only let themselves down when the green lobby persuaded them to replace the ‘hard standing’ they had already installed with grass verges.

They were dim enough to take notice, so the grass verges in the area and now a mass of wooden staves and boulders have been installed by the locals in an attempt to defend their verges.

You will recognise the undefended verges; they consist of mud puddles with tyre tracks through the middle.

If I may suggest a couple of causes to which the tree savers might more productively devote their energies.

Investigate who considered it was a good idea to replace existing street name signs with those flimsy aluminium things that are already being bent out of shape after less than six months, then put together a petition to get him or her to be transferred out of the city.

Take a look at the traffic flow, or rather lack of it, on Ecclesall Road before the Hunter’s Bar roundabout; a major contributory factor which would be the fact one supermarket and one minimarket are provisioned by juggernauts that require traffic stopping in both directions before they can back across the road and into a side road to make their deliveries.


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