Agenda item

Tree Strategy


Stuart Hunt, Head of Green Spaces, presented the Tree Strategy report to the Committee. Members were informed that, at present, there were no set guidelines; a clear and unambiguous Strategy was therefore required to facilitate a well-managed tree stock thereby leading to a reduction in insurance claims and emergency works.


Noting the sensitivity of the matter, Members respectfully sought clarification regarding current policy relating to memorials affixed to trees following tragic accidents. The Committee was advised that a Highways Policy was in existence which covered this – new memorials could remain in place for up to twelve months at which point they would be removed. Thereafter, those affixed to mark anniversaries and other important dates would be removed in a timely fashion.


In response to further questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that trees newly planted along highways were inspected regularly. Reports of any trees which required re-planting would be dealt with as soon as possible. In respect of root growth affecting paths and pavements, attempts would be made to retain mature trees whenever possible by ramping over any roots which were causing issues. As a last resort, trees could be removed and replaced with something more appropriate. 


Members were informed that, where possible, attempts would be made to locate new trees in the proximity of the site where trees had been felled. It was noted that it was important to maintain the green feeling of the Borough. If a tree was not suited to a particular location, a replacement, more suitable tree would be planted in the same area if feasible. Councillors heard that the Council aimed to retain its current 67 green flags this year.


The Committee requested further clarification in respect of tree maintenance; particularly in respect of caring for newly planted trees to ensure they were able to thrive. It was noted that some such trees would die in hot weather if not properly cared for. In response, officers confirmed that attempts were made to water newly planted trees regularly for the first three years of growth; however, this had been particularly challenging over the last few years. Plans were in place to bring maintenance back in-house and it was anticipated that newly planted trees would be visited more regularly in the future. More drought tolerant species would be planted where possible and trees would preferably be planted in green areas where they could establish better. Members noted the importance of maintenance and suggested that a paragraph on this be incorporated into the Strategy.


In response to further requests for clarification from the Committee, it was confirmed that the reference to ‘tenants’ back gardens’ on page 6 of the Tree Strategy should read ‘tenants’ gardens’ (in general) - the Strategy would be amended accordingly. In relation to ‘risk’, this was something tenants took on as part of their tenancy agreement. However, it was recognised that some tenants were unable to take on this risk for a variety of reasons; in such cases the Council could possibly assist.


Members sought clarity regarding trees planted years ago which no longer served their purpose and now damaged the landscape. It was confirmed that such matters would be managed in-house. More trees were planted than removed on an annual basis hence, over the years, there would be a healthy mix of trees in the Borough to benefit the environment. Officers worked with nurseries to ascertain which trees were drought resistant and research was undertaken in an attempt to ensure the right tree was planted in the right place.


In response to their queries, Members heard that officers worked closely with Ruislip Woods Management Advisory Group (RWMAG) and other residents’ associations on an ongoing basis. It was confirmed that, when a tree was removed, the removal contractor would ensure the area was made safe. Trees blown down during stormy weather would be replaced when possible – Councillors were invited to inform officers of any trees which had been missed or any areas where a tree was needed. It was noted that some ten trees at the memorial garden in Pole Hill had yet to be replaced; this work had not been completed due to flooding but would be carried out this winter if the issue could be resolved.


In terms of maintenance, Councillors were informed that new trees planted were accompanied by a label encouraging residents to water them. It was agreed that it may be possible to use the Council’s website more effectively to encourage this.


Noting the importance of tree maintenance, it was agreed that officers, in conjunction with the Chairman and Labour Lead, would draft comments on behalf of the Select Committee regarding the Tree Strategy. 


RESOLVED: That authority be delegated to Democratic Services, in conjunction with the Chairman and in consultation with the Labour Lead, to draft comments regarding the draft Tree Strategy prior to formal submission to the Cabinet Member.  

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