AGENDA ITEM NO. 5
REPORT TO:Executive Board
DATE:3 June 2008
LEAD MEMBER:Councillor David Bithell
LEAD OFFICER:Chief Environment Officer
CONTACT OFFICER:Jonathan Warren (Tel: 729634)
SUBJECT: Draft Wrexham Tree Strategy and Guidelines
1.PURPOSE OF THE REPORT
To seekMembers’approval of the Draft Wrexham Tree Strategy and Guidelines for use ofthe Tree Service following public consultation, a copy is available in the Members’ Library.
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
2.1Trees define our communities, form our landscape, improve the quality of our air and are essential for much of our wildlife.
The Aims of the Draft Tree Strategy are:-
- to protect Council owned trees and create a strategic approach to their management;
- to meet our legal obligations and manage risk;
- to create a cleaner, greener, attractive and healthier environment whilst reducing our effect on climate change and the effect it has on Wrexham;
- to provide an effective, efficient and responsive service;
- to raise public awareness about trees through consultation, education and participation.
2.2Extensive consultation on a variety of tree issues was carried out to help in the development of the Draft Tree Strategyand Guidelinesfor use of the Tree Service. Feedback has shown how much people value the trees of Wrexham and they are very supportive of the overall aims laid out in the Strategy.
2.3By adopting the Strategy and Guidelines, the Council will be setting out how we will manage our trees to keep them healthy, where we will plant trees for the future, and how we will deal with problems related to the care of our trees across the County Borough.
3.1That Members approve the Draft Wrexham Tree Strategy and Guidelines for use of the Tree Service.
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
To enable a strategic approach to be taken to the management of Council owned trees.
Chief Environment Officer
4.1Wrexham County Borough Council manages trees which are predominantly located in public housing property, gardens/open spaces, schools, public open spaces, streets and parks. During the last 5 years the management of Council trees has undergone a number of changes and improvements, including the creation of a tree surgery contract, the employment of an additional Arboricultural Officer and the installation of a specialist tree management computer package.
4.2All Council trees are currently the responsibility of the relevant Department, but the day to day management of all trees is provided under a service level agreement by the Arboricultural Manager and Arboricultural Officer. The Arboricultural Manager is responsible for guiding the strategic management of trees whilst managing the day to day tree contract and Arboricultural Officer post. Day to day inspections carried out as part of a corporate tree risk assessment and survey are undertaken by the Arboricultural Officer. Both Officers regularly carry out site visits in response to enquiries from the public and requests from other Departments.The Council employs a private contractor to undertake tree works and the contract is subject to tender every 3 years.
4.3 During the planting season (November-March), the Section organises a number of County Borough wide tree planting events and schemes which involve a large amount of public consultation and increased public involvement. Over 2,000 new urban trees have been planted during the last 5 years.
4.4Key actions arising from the Strategy include:-
- an emphasis on involving the public in tree planting schemes, both for street trees and community tree planting programmes;
- ensuring the tree inspection programme is completed for Council owned trees;
- any risks quantifiedand a tree maintenance programme introduced.
The adoption of the guidelines for the public use of the service will make it easier for the public to understand what the Council is able to do in terms of the care of trees and what it is not willing to do, due to the damage it may cause to thetrees. There is an emphasis on encouraging an awareness of trees and the value they can play in our towns and communities.
5.1Consultation on a variety of tree issues was carried out to help in the development of the Draft Tree Strategy. This was in the form of a questionnaire advertised in the local press, internet and intranet. Copies were sent to various user groups including the Wrexham Disability Forum, the Housing Tenants Assembly and the Wrexham Youth Forum. Over a three month period, 283 responses were received.
5.2A further 477 consultation responses were received from the Citizens Panel, the results also supporting the aims and objectives of the Draft Tree Strategy.
5.3A brief summary of some of the results is outlined below:-
- People were very supportive of the need to retain standing dead wood for wildlife and plant native trees.
- 44% of people would like us toprune Council trees, but only if they are physically touching their property (roofing, walls, fences, sheds, etc).
- To help improve the quality of Wrexham’s environment and reduce the impacts of climate change, people want us to prioritise planting trees in built up/urban areas (streets) where there is very little greenery or trees.
- They would like us to phase out the use of chemical sprays used for controlling weeds around trees and replace with greener alternatives such as composted bark chippings.
- The high number of responses indicate that the issues within this Strategy are of high public interest.
5.4Following on from this initial consultation work, the Draft Tree Strategy and Guidelines for use of the Tree Servicewere circulated for further consultation. The Strategy was placed on the Wrexham website and articles were placed in local newspapers inviting the public to provide comments. Copies of the plan were sent to interested parties with a total of 42 copies being sent out. Ten responses were received which, in conjunction with all previous consultation, indicates that the Draft Tree Strategy is accepted by the general public.
5.5In summary, the feedback from the consultation carried out has shown how much people value the trees of Wrexham and are very supportive of the overall aims laid out in the Draft Tree Strategy and Guidelines for use of the Tree Service.
6.SCRUTINY COMMITTEE COMMENTS
(i)That the policy statement on page 22 of the Draft Tree Strategy for Council owned land be amended to state that the Council will replace felled trees in particular built up areas, if conditions are suitable; and
(ii)That the Executive Board be recommended to:-
- approve the Draft Tree Strategy for Council owned land, subject to the aforementioned amendment; and
- approve the Guidelines for the Public on the Wrexham County Borough Council Tree Service.
7.1Policy Framework - This year saw the publication of the Communities and Local Government 'Trees in Towns II' which provides recommendations to local authorities for the future management of urban trees. Although this publication is confined to England, its recommendations can be used as a bench mark for local authority tree management. A key recommendation in the report is for local authorities to produce a Tree Management Strategy.
7.2Budget - The Draft Tree Strategy will be delivered within existing budgets.
- Highways Act (Dangerous Trees) 1980
- Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976
- Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
- Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000
- The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
- Conservation (Natural Habitats & c) Regulations 1994
- Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and 1984
- Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and 1999
7.4Staffing - Existing staff will deliver the strategy
7.5Equalities/Diversity-An equality impact assessment screening has been carried out on the Strategy and the Equalities Manager has commented on this process.On the functions assessment for the Department, the Strategy is considered to be "low" relevance to the equality duties for race, disability and gender.BACKGROUND PAPERS / LOCATION / WEBSITE INFO.
Draft Wrexham Tree Strategy and Guidelines. / Members’ Library