Protecting and Enhancing England’s Trees and Woodlands

Protecting and Enhancing England’s Trees and Woodlands

The Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a consultation into protecting trees and woodland. This particularly includes consultation into the protection of street trees.

Details of the consultation can be found on: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/protecting-trees-and-woodlands/co…

Government has a manifesto commitment to introduce a duty on local authorities to consult on the felling of street trees. This would apply to individual street trees which are to be felled, unless they meet certain exemption criteria.

Local authorities sometimes consult with local communities prior to felling trees, but there is wide variation across the country, meaning some communities have little say over the fate of the trees in their area. Those local authorities that currently consult typically do so in order to inform the public of reasons behind felling that may be perceived as contentious (such as removal of healthy or prominent mature trees).

There have been numerous examples in Sefton where healthy trees have been felled on the basis that they are dangerous when independent opinion has found this to be untrue.

There are currently no government standards or guidelines for local authority street tree management, and so the decision to consult is individual to each local authority.

Given the general public support for street trees and current lack of accountability associated with street tree felling DEFRA believes there is a need for greater community engagement in decision-making affecting street trees.

Government intends to introduce a duty on local authorities to consult with local communities to ensure that consultation takes place when a street tree is to be felled, and that the consultation process meets certain standards.

Martyn Barber, your Conservative candidate for Blundellsands ward, supports this consultation, stating: “Too many trees have been felled in Blundellsands without proper consultation or explanation. Communities should have an opportunity to understand why a tree is being felled within their local area and if necessary to raise concerns regarding the felling of trees that will be heard by the local authority.”