‘For Trees’ Feedback

Image result for for trees

Dear Tree Supporter,

Below is a summary of the meeting held at Wallasey Town Hall on 2nd July. You can view the meeting for yourself on:

WirralCouncilWebcasting; Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2.7.19. Last item on agenda presented to Cllr Chris Blakeley (chair) by Cllr Christina Muspratt :

Thank you to all the tree supporters who attended.

On 2 July 2019 Council Officer David Armstrong reported that the Council are “currently engaged in a programme of extensive backlog maintenance to do with trees” He stated: “I assure you we are just carrying out maintenance and we have got a lot of work to do”…”people are polarised, people who want it done and many who are absolutely opposed”…”this is having implications for people trying to carry out the works”…”I can understand why people are upset “. He then continued to emphasize the wish to move onto the tree removal from school grounds; Considering the ‘student strikes for climate’ this is a grotesque proposal; schools need to invest in cleaner air for which trees and dense vegetation around schools are essential. He referred to the policing which is needed increasingly as the public stand up against the felling; Yet the Aarhus Convention legally obliges us as members of the public to protect our natural environment.

The council has a responsibility to educate these “people who want it carried out” to understand the implications of habitat removal and destruction, now that we face the Climate Emergency. Of course the profiteers from the timber will be amongst this group; Beyond Mancoed; who are these profiteers?…What do they have to gain?….they have everything to lose, as do we all…

Now so many of us have paved gardens as car parks, we are all reliant on public trees being our oxygen banks.

The good news is; the ‘For Trees’ team have been working on a tree strategy/policy for Wirral and as an outcome of the above meeting there has been a ‘Tree Strategy Councillor Group’ set up to meet twice a year. Will this be sufficient and in time to save the trees ear-marked in the Council’s “workload backlog” ??!

Please relay to your three local Councillors that we need them to help save Wirral’s trees. And feel free to share your correspondence, anonymously or otherwise

Many thanks,

The ‘For Trees’ team

I attach a table of risk for your information to consider the disproportionate actions that Wirral Council are taking while destroying our natural environment;

Fatalities in ‘Daily or Normal Life’

The following table compares the calculated risks that are experienced in ‘daily or normal life’.

Annual risk of death Annual risk Annual risk per million
All causes, aged 45-64
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 190 5263
All causes, aged 30-44
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 940 1064
Accidents in the home, all ages
(England and Wales, 2004) (3)
1 in 17,000 59
Road accidents
(Great Britain, 2010) (2)
1 in 32,000 31
Injuries to all employees in different industries
(Great Britain, average 2001/02-2005/06) (4)
 

1 in 140,000

 

7

Insignificant or Trivial Risk (HSE) 1 in 1,000,000 1
Lightning (5) 1 in 19,000,000 0.05
Trees on public land (incl. tree surgeons and fellers; statistically the majority group) 1 in 20,000,000 0.05
  • Office for National Statistics Focus on Health
  • Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010
  • Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning
  • Health and Safety Commission Statistics of Fatal Injuries 2005/06
  • Deaths and injuries caused by lightning in the United Kingdom: analyses of two databases, D M Elsom, Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, 2000

Additional Reference: National Tree Safety Group-Common sense risk management

TREE PROTECTION – URGENT APPEAL FOR SUPPORT TONIGHT (JULY 2ND) AT COUNCIL MEETING,WALLASEY TOWN HALL 6PM

Campaign group ‘For Trees’ have today sent out this urgent appeal :

There is an intention to discuss Wirral’s Trees tonight and ‘call in’ the felling while the new Wirral Tree Policy and strategy is established. This policy will afford Tree Protection and allow a healthier environment for Wirral.

Please show your support at the Council meeting on the environment TONIGHT  (Tuesday 2nd July) from 6pm at Wallasey Town Hall.
Your voices count!!
Many many thanks for your ongoing support

 

Meanwhile here is recent correspondence we have received outlining  For Trees attempts to stop the felling of 33 mature,healthy trees in West Kirby. Could this be part of Wirral’ Council’s gross over-reaction to tree maintenance prompted by a particularly tragic case involving a fallen tree?

Dear Mr Justice,

I am sending a copy below of the e-mail sent to interested Councillors and those on the Environment Committee following a ‘meeting’ in Grange Park with Anthony Bestwick and Colin Quinney where Councillors called to STOP the plans to cut and fell the row of lombardy poplars in Grange Park, West Kirby. The Council officers have said that they are refusing any call for a moratorium and will proceed with felling!!! This is outrageous!

Please help to stop the Grange fellings and KEEP WIRRAL’S TREES.

Many thanks,

Diane Johnson, For Trees Wirral.

Emergency on Planet Earth

Wirral’s trees are being felled at an unprecedented rate.  Some local authorities are now actively protecting trees in their constituencies. Wirral Council officers have repeatedly taken decisions based upon totally disproportionate and unfounded fears that our most precious living asset be disposed of, at cost to the taxpayer and to the Council.

Claim culture must be addressed, in part via public education; this is the legal responsibility of the council. Councils concerned about the possibility of negligence claims need to issue disclaimers in public areas which warn the public that they should, for example, avoid walking in the vicinity of quaysides, close to ancient trees on cliff tops, etc in the event of severe gales.  They cannot, and should not, be held responsible for accidents that occur as a result of the interactions between our environment and ourselves.
Litigation actions, pursued as a result of illnesses caused by airborne pollutants, are becoming more frequent; These increases in breathing related deaths are a vital implication of ‘duty of care’ and ‘health and safety issue’ for the council, as trees intercept pollutants which cause seizures, asthma attacks and inhibited lung growth.

‘For Trees’ has audited the loss of and damage to several thousand trees in our Borough. Felling operations are market-driven by the risk economy, by the biomass market  (which uses 79% wood fuel instead of waste products), timber harvesting, and by the compulsory roll-out of 5G and its infrastructure. An FOI request revealed a Wirral spend of 220k per annum on tree ‘works’ but this was subsequently found to be 1.5m (Anthony Bestwick quoted 1.2 m 19.6.19); It can cost up £5,000 to fell a mature tree (how much to protect a tree?)

 

In response to the ‘Amenity Tree Care Ltd’ survey of Grange Park, West Kirby: 

 

The removal of any trees at Grange Park/Cemetery will be detrimental to the local ecology, and the human population. Despite their amenity value, the trees filter the pollutants reaching West Kirby, and provide oxygen, thus reducing the risk of pulmonary diseases and deaths through breathing related illness; of which there were 55,000 recorded in 2017. This FAR outweighs ANY risk or ‘danger’ from keeping trees. Their removal is a certain risk to human health.

No tree surveyor is capable of foretelling which trees may fall in severe storms. Trees which are identified as dead will rot, providing a vital micro-system of food source for foraging birds and bats, fungi and other micro-organisms which only thrive on dead or decaying timber can inhabit as a vital part of our ecology.

A tree will eventually become soft and crumbly, rather like a balsa-wood. This offers NO significant danger.

The entire area is foraging grounds for a number of bat species and any tree hollows at this location, are plausibly bat roosts

THE AMENITY COMMERCIAL SURVEY: response

  1.  The whitebeam; This small tree has been previously coppiced and has since grown multi-stems from it’s base of which some dead limbs of around 10cm diameter. More importantly, this tree is surrounded by a 4m diameter thicket of bramble. This is a unique habitat within this park providing shelter and habitat for sparrows, and foraging birds and small mammals such as hedgehogs.
  2. This hawthorn has been recommended (April 2019) for the Woodland Trusts’ Ancient tree directory. There is a living limb attached to a very old and ecologically valuable stump (around 1 metre height) of considerable age. Hawthorns can exist through re-generation for many centuries, although sadly they are very rare at this age.
  3.  Ash: This tree should be left in situ as it is in dense wooded area; adding valuable habitat.
  4.  Sycamore: In dense wooded area; adding valuable habitat. This tree should be left in situ.
  5.  Laburnum; This tree has been dead for many years. It lies at a 45 degree angle from the ground with vertical stem from this and has still never fallen after all this time. As it has been left as a dead-wood it illustrates perfectly that, being allowed to rot in situ adds valuable perching and foraging habitat.
  6.  Only last year this magnificent cherry tree stood as a perfect specimen of a full canopy tree. Cherry-wood is one of the most valuable and sought after British hardwoods commercially and this specimen willl command a high price in timber value. It has died very suddenly and would stand, if left in situ, for many decades adding important habitat to the ecology of the area
  7. This cherry has previously had all of it’s branch canopy ends cut; By whom? and Why?

consequently this has introduced some disease to the tree. Yet it is now in good leaf.

G1: This “group of two trees” (according to survey) with an estimated height of 3 m is, in fact, a small and ecologically valuable ‘coppice’ which includes two young healthy ash, two young healthy oaks and a small sycamore. A limb of the sycamore which has died back can easily remain in situ as it stands no more than 3m and is in advanced stages of decay. The survey refers to a hawthorn to be ‘felled to the ground’ but this is already a short stump

G2: Despite a covering letter to the survey from Anthony Bestwick suggesting that 6 poplars are condemned to fell, where he states;

“The biggest group of trees is the row of Lombardy Poplars along the edge of the roadway in the cemetery that due to significant issues, means that 6 of the 33 trees require felling the remaining Lombardy Poplars require pollarding.”

The survey, in fact, states that all 33 poplars are recommended to fell; The survey says;

“G2 is a row of thirty-three Lombardy poplar growing adjacent to the main access road into the cemetery. The trees have a history of being poorly pruned and have been significantly reduced in height to approximately 4m above ground level. The survey identified twenty-three trees that have major structural defects that consists of significant stem and basal decay. Large diameter deadwood is visible in several trees.

Following the significant reduction in height there appears to have been no further work carried out to the trees.”

It continues;

“Due to the poor structural condition of the trees and poor pruning and the further likely deterioration in the structural condition of the trees. I recommend that the trees are felled to ground level.”

Mr Bestwick’s letter thus is misleading. The Council is required by the Aarhus Convention, to which the UK is a party, to operate in an open, fair and transparent manner, so the public can see what is involved, yet they have deliberately obscured information.

 

ALL these 33 trees are, in fact, robust and thriving. ALL show healthy new growth throughout the individual trees from ground level to the full height of these trees which now have recovered from their ‘poor pruning’ and have grown to over 13 metres high.

The statement could correctly read ; ‘following the significant reduction in height’…the trees have successfully healed and grown to their current height of over 13 metres tall. It is not appropriate to pollard this beautiful line of trees.

No tree needs to be ‘felled to ground level’ as is recommended in the survey; This row of trees are one of the few remaining stands of such trees in Wirral; they need to be seen to realise just how spectacular they are. Standing majestically, they can be viewed from parts of Liverpool as well as Wallasey and New Brighton. They, as are all the trees on this survey, within the feeding grounds of the bat population of Grange and, in fact, provide probable bat roosting. Because of the protection status given to bats, the trees should be afforded protection on this basis alone.

The time for full and thorough independent environmental impact assessments and bat surveys (even if they had been done, as should have been good practice) has passed; the trees need to stay.

There is at least one nesting box visible fixed into the poplar beside the scout hut and a nest is also visible (the scouts intend to write letters or e-mails of appeal to stop felling or cutting these trees as they were unaware of the felling programme prior to 18.6.19).

The following statements; ..

” trees that have major structural defects that consists of significant stem and basal decay. Large diameter deadwood is visible in several trees.”

indicates the lack of understanding as to the nature of tree-growth and ageing by the surveyor; The living part of an ageing tree is the outer girth; Most ancient trees are, in general, entirely hollow, as their inner wood naturally decomposes with girth expansion (the famous red-wood of USA which was, for many years, recorded as the tallest known tree had a road running through it). Hollow trees are STRONG (as are hollow wind turbines and hollow bones etc) and will stand for centuries as hollow. As these hollows develop, ideal habitat is provided for eg nesting owls and woodpeckers, and roosting bats.

The reason given for pollarding the trees is; because it has been done previously. Of course, even pollarding them will render them susceptible to disease, spoil their appearance, reduce their capacity to filter pollution and produce oxygen etc.

The felling company will obviously stand to profit from harvesting the timber from these our public trees.

G3.: The ‘group of standing young dead elms’; The only reason to remove these would be to remove the diseased wood; Mancoed’s practice however is to chip and leave diseased elm-wood on site; this was how the elms of Grange Hill were ‘managed’ last year where an astonishing number of living healthy trees of other species were also felled alongside these valuable deadwoods with the tree-fellers excuse; “we needed to get the chipper through”….’collateral damage!’. This, again, is unacceptable

 

FLOODING

 

All the living trees in the survey contribute to flood-alleviation. As the Council has, over recent years, dug up Grange park to install drainage systems, I am interested to know how much was spent on this? Upon the site visit, it can be clearly illustrated that areas of the park are still flooding and thus are in need of PLANTING FURTHER TREES particularly in the areas which are currently flooded.

Flood defences have already been installed by way of ‘gambions’ beside the scout hut where the line of trees stops.

 

TREE SURVEYS

There were no such things as tree surveys in the past and trees did just fine, and the possibility of being ‘harmed’ by a tree was never an issue.

There is no legal requirement to survey and fell trees in this manner.

 

Surveying trees, with a view to harvesting their timbers, opens the door to the question of whether a tree has the right to exist.

What is the purpose of any health and condition survey if it recommends that a tree or any other living creature should be killed? The only surveys that could feasibly be entertained would be those that analyse the human-borne threat to trees at any stage of their lives with a view to protection, via tree guards, tree pits, mulching, wardening. etc. Surveying needs to establish the cavat value of our valuable trees using the Eco itree tool, which Wirral Council are advised to adopt immediately. (linking in with Wrexham Council and learning from their methods of good tree-care practice will be a sensible next step.

The ONLY trees that should be considered to prune or remove are those which grow across roads or footpaths and would physically interfere directly with traffic flow eg the bus ‘tunnel’ of vegetation, or walking on an official pathway (1.5 m).

Trees are unique as living organisms in that, unlike others, they continue to function at very high levels at EVERY stage of life and in WHATEVER CONDITION. They are unique in the enormous contributions they make every second of their lives to human and animal health and to the health of our elements. They curate life both in their immediate environment and far beyond.HSE statistics illustrate a 1: 120,000,000 risk compared to 6 road deaths a day (1,793 road deaths per annum) yet there is still no meaningful policy to curb car use). This entirely dis-proportionate felling response ignores the huge benefits we gain from trees.

Wirral Council needs to terminate its surveying and felling contracts forthwith.

There is one threat to the health of trees – which is human. Humans import tree diseases. Humans attack trees.

And yet our very lives depend on them

Update; Following the ‘meeting in the park’ with Colin Quinney and Anthony Bestwick (19.6.19) they expressed that; no amount of calls for moratoria will be heeded, from Councillors, as there is ‘a duty of care’ and a ‘health and safety’ issue involved and; despite the climate emergency, the fellings would go ahead.  Colin Quinney noted that if some of the poplar trees in their condition had been ‘special trees’ he would have agreed to save them as it is it would be too expensive. He also said he wouldn’t proceed with felling ALL those which the survey had suggested but would save some poplars. There was no mention of, or regard shown for the DEFRA bio-diversity duty legal commitments or the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) or European Habitats Directive; laws which are in place to protect our natural environment.

Diane Johnson, BSc Hons Ecology, PGCE, For Trees Wirral

Dear Councillor,

In view of the pending loss of the majestic row of poplars (all 33 poplar trees) at Grange Park, and almost all of the other mature trees within the Park area, as a result of the survey carried out by Amenity Tree ‘Care’. we have searched for an independent, non-commercial, qualified tree surveyor who is willing to give us another opinion, before any work goes ahead.

Thankfully we have found an Arboricultural Consultant who is agreeable to this.
First, we need a delay on the proposed felling ‘works’ by Mancoed while we arrange this further.
In view of correct practice requiring that notice is given prior to the closure of the park in advance to any works proceeding, we hope that we have a window ‘stay of execution’ although Anthony Bestwick has reported that he wants to proceed with felling “as soon as possible”.
I attach a table of risk for your information to consider the disproportionate actions that Wirral Council are taking while destroying our natural environment;

Fatalities in ‘Daily or Normal Life’

The following table compares the calculated risks that are experienced in ‘daily or normal life’.

Annual risk of death Annual risk Annual risk per million
All causes, aged 45-64
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 190 5263
All causes, aged 30-44
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 940 1064
Accidents in the home, all ages
(England and Wales, 2004) (3)
1 in 17,000 59
Road accidents
(Great Britain, 2010) (2)
1 in 32,000 31
Injuries to all employees in different industries
(Great Britain, average 2001/02-2005/06) (4)
 

1 in 140,000

 

7

Insignificant or Trivial Risk (HSE) 1 in 1,000,000 1
Trees on public land 1 in 20,000,000 0.05
Lightning (5) 1 in 19,000,000 0.05
  • Office for National Statistics Focus on Health
  • Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010
  • Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning
  • Health and Safety Commission Statistics of Fatal Injuries 2005/06
  • Deaths and injuries caused by lightning in the United Kingdom: analyses of two databases, D M Elsom, Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, 2000

Additional Reference: National Tree Safety Group-Common sense risk management of trees

Yours Sincerely

Diane Johnson, For Trees.

Paving Over Prenton

image-7

The Green Party’s Chris Cooke has chosen an interesting time to become a councillor for the Prenton ward with plenty of controversial planning applications on the go.

We’d previously reported on the new housing estate to build on the former Pershore House school playing fields in The Great Wirral Land Grab .  Subsequently there have been controversial plans for  development on the site of the ‘The Dell’ pub which we’ll be reporting on another time. However at the forefront of local campaigners thoughts at the moment are plans for Prenton Golf Club .

Pegasus (agents for Prenton Golf Club) have put a leaflet through local residents door last week to attend a ‘drop-in session’ at Prenton Golf Club, Golf Links Rd on Thursday 9th May between 16:00 and 19:00.  

Action has been called for by ‘For Trees’ is required by 10th May

Please can you encourage as many people as possible to object to this planned development on Green Belt land, ancient woodlands and established ponds.
Link to the Wirral Borough Council planning Application APP/19/00501 is
 HERE. Please submit comments by 10th May.
The petition wording is as below; feel free to use this as a template for your objections;
We, the undersigned, object to the planning application number APP/19/00501.
Demolition of existing clubhouse building and the erection of a replacement clubhouse with adjacent plant
rooms and buggy/trolley stores and 4no driving range bays; reconfiguration of the existing golf course and
the erection of 22 dwellings, with associated parking at Prenton Golf Club, GOLF LINKS ROAD,
PRENTON, CH42 8LW.
The grounds of the objection and the associated wider implications of such a proposal are as follows:-
 Housing density and loss of Greenbelt land in the immediate vicinity.
 The proximity of the proposal would seriously compromise the character and setting of Mountwood Conservation Area.
 Views of the site would invade the local landscape.
 It would totally obliterate the valued natural habitat of associated wildlife by destroying an ancient
Woodland and further notable trees protected by Wirral Borough Council ( TPO No. 395), together with the removal of two extensively and well-established pond areas.
 Send to : planningapplications@wirral.gov.uk
 

 
Attached you will find a Neighbour Update Document’ with details of how to submit your objection either by post or online.
I have outlined below a ‘Sample Objection Letter’ that you can modify for your individual objections to this development.
Please reply if you need any further assistance and thank you for ensuring your voice is heard.

Best Regards

For Trees Team

 

SAMPLE OBJECTION LETTER

House Name

                                                                                                XX Stanley Avenue

                                                                                                Higher Bebington

                                                                                                Wirral

                                                                                                CH63 xxx       

                                                                                        

Attention: Mr. Marc Wood

Senior Planning Officer

Environmental Services

Town Hall

Brighton Street

Wallasey

Wirral CH44 8ED                                                                   1ST May 2019

Dear Mr Wood

Prenton Golf Club – Wirral Borough Council Planning Application No. APP/19/00501

Demolition of existing clubhouse building and the erection of a replacement clubhouse with adjacent plant rooms and buggy/trolley stores and 4no driving range bays; reconfiguration of the existing golf course and the erection of 22 dwellings, with associated parking at Prenton Golf Club, GOLF LINKS ROAD, PRENTON, CH42 8LW.

I am writing in relation to the above-mentioned planning application no. APP/19/00501. I have reviewed the proposed development plans and I wish to register my objection.

The reason for my objections are outlined below:

1.      The proposed development constitutes inappropriate development on designated greenbelt land and will be harmful to the character and setting of the Mountwood Conservation Area.  It also proposes devastation of ancient woodlands and established ponds and the precious habitat.

2.       It infringes the local planning policies National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Wirral Unitary Development Plan (UDP) in terms of, scale, density, design and impact to the green belt land and environment.

3.      It does not demonstrate ‘an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions.  In addition, it fails to provide or demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ required for approval.

4.      It does not consider wildlife in the area which may include potential breeding of great crested newts, roosting bats and other protected species.  There are no ‘very special circumstances’ that can justify the gross negative impact from the proposals, on the area or its assets.

5.      The new clubhouse plus peripheral buildings and associated parking are located in very close proximity to existing residential properties which form part of Mountwood Conservation Area. Therefore, the proposal does not meet the council requirements based on separation distances and accordingly the development will directly impact on the privacy of neighbouring properties.

6.      The proposed new residential area of 22 dwellings would directly and negatively impact on the current established residential area with loss of privacy and visual amenity due to the overbearing and domineering nature of the development. The proposed housing density is completely out of keeping with the existing properties, virtually doubling the number of residential properties in the immediate area.  It would pose a direct detrimental impact on the Mountwood Conservation area.

7.      Unacceptable noise pollution from the planned clubhouse location and outdoor social area to include an outside fire pit and terrace facilities. Objection to proposed licensed function rooms until 02:00 over the weekend. This contravenes the NPPF, NPSE 2010 & PPG 2014 that states that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment.

8.      Light pollution through the proposed location of the 128 parking spaces at the rear of Stanley Avenue with the related floodlighting and additional lighting surrounding the new clubhouse: These proposals do not meet the interest of residential amenity having regards to policy HS15 of the Wirral Unitary Development Plan.

9.      The new Clubhouse facility is planned to be built upon ancient woodlands and an established pond that has operated as natural drainage via several advantageously positioned ditches for many years.  This natural ground system has been able to deal with the water from the natural sand ridge above. Removing this landscape will increase the potential of water saturation and possible localised flooding. This phenomenon is already evident in this area and will inevitably be made much worse with this proposed car park and clubhouse development.

Can you, therefore please register my objection to this proposed Prenton Golf Club development.

Yours faithfully

FULL NAME HERE

Gagging For Trees

tree gag

Here we have a rather worrying message to share from the Secretary of the local campaign group ‘For Trees’ who we have supported on this blog. Wirral Council appear to have learned nothing from the past and are resorting to a tried , tested (and failed) tactics of gags, bans and playing the victim of a vexatious complainant :

As some of you may know, WBC issued an order to the’ For Trees’ Secretary on 14th Mar 2019 . Perhaps it was inspired by Sheffield City Council’s (who saw fit to issue an injunction against one of their own Councillors protesting the removal of thousands of the city’s trees).

It tells me that;
 ‘we have received a large number of complaints in your name’
that;
 ‘we note that you have raised certain arguments on numerous occasions which have already been answered in full, such as the use of glyphosate ‘
 that ;
‘it appears that you are acting with or leading a group of people who are coordinating complaints or who use the same arguments and the same points as you do in their complaints’;
and that;
‘you have complained about various staff members engaged by ourselves, including calling for Mary Worrall to resign’
Guilty as charged m’lud.
So the current  corporate director for business management, Paul Satoor, has communicated by letter that  WBC has invoked the policy ( ‘unreasonable and unreasonably persistent complaints procedure), in which I am debarred from communicating by letter or any other means for  a period of two years, with any Council staff unless it is about a ‘new’ subject (ie not about trees).  This new complaint can  only be addressed to Shelby Loudon at the ‘feedback’ team  where it will be filed but not responded to!
Never mind that the Council, who have stepped up their felling and dismantling of Wiral’s trees, are in breach of their statutory obligations to protect trees and to protect biodiversity, or that they’ve contracted Mancoed to do so when it is against the law, during the nesting season, to carry out these operations ( Wildlife & Countryside  Act as amended 1991).
Never mind that they are blithely carrying on the Glyphosate poisoning contract at the expense of every living thing on the Wirral and elsewhere, courtesy of the taxpayer – even though 15 countries have banned it,  and wiser Councils are following suit.
Never mind that they are asking Wirral’s residents to fund this gigantic and irremediable devastation of our environment when  the relevant officers are paid to protect it.
When the going gets tough, the Council get gagging… 

For Trees Pleas…

As they’re backing up like, well ,let’s not go there, here’s our third local campaign post of the evening from ‘For Trees’.

The campaign group met with Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong last month (January 18 to be precise) and asked him to sign up to the requests outlined   below ,which we think would have been an excellent step forward in addressing public accountability and the balance of power. We don’t need to tell you that Armstrong didn’t sign up to the requests. As far as we’re concerned Mr Armstrong is definitely not a fan of public accountability and clearly likes to be the one with the power.

On the same day as this meeting we received information and pictures from another concerned source about what was happening at Grange Hill , West Kirby  :

Grange Hill 11

Grange Hill, West Kirby, Wirral; a site registered with Wirral Council as an SBI (Site of Biological Importance) has, over recent years been in the hands of a ‘friends of…’ group  (FoGH) who have, with the support of Council Ranger service, slashed and burned huge amounts of wildlife habitat, and felled many of the mature trees around the site of the war memorial, and well beyond this area; rendering parts of the hill unrecognisable as to what it once was. Destroying habitats of many protected species, not least; bats woodpeckers, owls and lizards.The footpaths, which were previously managed by the Council footpaths officer alone, have now been glyphosated (prior to Remembrance Day Nov 2018) which has led to such extreme soil erosion that some of the steeper paths are now expanses of bare rock.

Grange Hill 24

On Friday, January 18th, Mancoed, Council commercial contractors, felled over 20 mature trees along the lower perimeter of Grange Hill. These trees were away from any footpaths and they were felled with no notice or discussions with the local Grange Hill Biodiversity Group.
The ‘Friends of’ group still meet most Sundays, on Grange Hill, to continue their programme of slash and burn.
This is tantamount to WILDLIFE CLEANSING and should be stopped!
Grange Hill 4

‘FOR TREES’

FAO: David Armstrong (Corporate Director for Delivery Services/Assistant Chief Executive, Wirral Council.)

Meeting called by Margaret Greenwood, MP; 18/1/2019 at; Hoylake Community Centre.

In attendance:  Margaret Greenwood MP, David Armstrong, Louise Stothard, Sec. For Trees, Diane Johnson, ecologist,

The ‘For Trees’ group now has over 450 supporters on the Wirral peninsula

We are looking to invite celebrated authors to speak publicly at meetings, sharing their knowledge, and wisdom, concerning the contribution trees have made to the world we inhabit.

The Wirral peninsula now has very few trees over 200 years of age, and it is imperative that trees on the Wirral are permitted to live as long as possible…with trunks and branches being supported by ‘stays’ or ‘spars’ wherever deemed necessary.

The number one aim of the ‘For Trees’ group is to bring a halt to the Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council scheme of felling mature trees and destroying vegetation, in public parks and across the Borough.

The Council has persisted also in comprehensive applications of Glyphosate across the Borough, a known carcinogen banned in many countries.

We ask that this meeting calls to secure a halt to the tree-felling scheme currently taking place in Ashton Park, West Kirby, and the condemning/felling and dismantling trees, removing shrubs, scrub and gorse cover across the Borough. This policy degrades the environment and health and safety of residents.

It is never acceptable to fell a tree, or to pay contractors or in-house staff to present any tree as ‘a risk’ on the basis that there’s a 1 in 20 million (HSE) possibility that part of it might in falling, kill someone or to present it as a risk if it is decaying, has, or is likely to be colonised by fungi or be liable to wood decay. Trees should be left in situ.

Branches will fall occasionally in extreme winds. Tree surgeons routinely remove branches which may show some minor decay ‘back to stem’, which inevitably interrupts the wind flow, through the tree, and can render other branches and trees more vulnerable. This also applies to ‘lolli-popping’ and extreme pollarding of trees.

The Council have a legal commitment to ENHANCE bio-diversity thereby to have minimum ‘hands-on’ interference.

The Council should be saving money spent on the use of tree surgeons using chainsaws, which is an extremely dangerous procedure. Such practices amount to a gross misuse of public money, an abrogation of statutory duty and a failure of office by Wirral Council. The £16,500 spent on a recent survey would have been better spent on providing supporting ‘stays’ or ‘spars’ for long, overhanging branches, in order to protect the branches.

The litigation-minded approach to trees on public land has to change: The protection of trees and members of the public can go hand in hand, without resorting to the use of chain saws.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, according to the Aarhus Convention, is legally obliged to EDUCATE the public on these issues: not relying on voluntary groups, such as ‘For Trees’, to share accurate and reliable information on environmental issues with members of the public.

  1. We request a halt to the felling, and proposed felling programme of, 40 trees and 65 to have branches removed, in Ashton Park, West Kirby, Wirral.
  2. We request a commitment to improved sharing of information, and a genuine dialogue with the public with respect to trees.
  3. We request that trees identified with symbiotic fungi present, are left intact.
  4. We request that trees with hollow spaces are protected; hollow trees are strong, (as are wind turbines and bones) and vital to enriching biodiversity.
  5. We request that the Council honors it’s legal commitment to environmental education by working with every school in the borough to involve them in tree preservation programmes, and planting of indigenous trees and hedgerows, whilst acknowledging that tree planting does not compensate for removal of our valuable mature trees.
  6. We request an end to threats of prosecution of local citizens exercising their rights to peaceful protest while doing their utmost to protect trees from unnecessary felling.

7.We request an end to the use of glyphosate by Wirral Borough Council; saving up to  £150,000 a year.

  1. We request a moratorium putting an end the felling of Wirral’s trees and an end to the extreme lopping, pollarding and cutting of trees and their branches be allowed to grow naturally.

 

Signed this day; 18th January 2019

 

…………………………………..

 

David Armstrong, Corporate Dir. For Delivery Services/Asst. Chief Executive.

 

The De-greening of West Kirby : A Further Reminder

As a follow up to our The De-greening of West Kirby story we have some further updates for your information including details on how to object to the proposed Ashton Court development and some interesting information on how Magenta Living and their officers are (once again) planning to make a killing on what was once public property. We also provide further photographic evidence of the destruction being done in the name conservation in Ashton Park.

ASHTON COURT  :

PLEASE OBJECT TO THE APP/18/01625 Planning Application for ASHTON COURT.
The last date for objections is Tuesday 5 February 2019.
1.Use Google (Duck Duck Go or another search engine);
2. Enter: Wirral.planning applications……..in the search box;
3. Click on: View local planning applications – Wirral Council;
4. On the page titled ‘Search for applications’, click on ‘Simple’;
5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter: APP/18/01625;
6. Click on the green ‘Search’ pad;
7. Click on the Make a comment pad;
8. Scroll down the page to enter your personal details (title, name, address);
9. Enter your objection to planning application APP/18/01625 in the ‘Your comment’ box;
10. When you have finished making your objection, scroll down and click ‘submit’.
THANK YOU.
PLEASE object to the dreadful APP/18/01625 planning application for the demolition of 22 empty and neglected retirement flats at Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby (NW England). The application proposes the privatisation of the site with the construction of 13 three-storey houses and 1 two-storey house…..to be sold on the open market. PLEASE object on Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s website. Google: Wirral.planning applications. Follow the simple search process. Enter: Ashton Court.APP/18/01625 and click on COMMENT. Make your objection.
The 22 flats should be refurbished and modernised for elderly people!!!! The Housing Association ‘Magenta Living’ has 192 unoccupied (empty) homes. This is a disgrace. Magenta Living has an annual income, from rents, in excess of £50 million. The CEO is paid £130,000 per annum. THANK YOU for your help!!!
ASHTON PARK :

Photos documenting Ashton Park fellings last week….The Council will not respect a call for a moratorium and our ecology is being decimated at the expense of us all.

Please continue to defend our trees write in to MP’s/ Councillors/ Andrew Elkington (of the Council) and keep the pressure on for this to STOP
For Trees Wirral
ashton park 17
ashton park 22
ashton park 21

The De-greening of West Kirby

A couple of messages from campaign groups in West Kirby (home of Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies and his personal spin doctor Martin Liptrot)  which we think  warrant your attention :

HAPPY NEW YEAR from the For Trees team!

Over the break, tree cutting has continued at Ashton Park has continued.
We URGENTLY need emails of objection (labelled as ‘official complaint…or it can be ignored’) to go out to;
Andrew Elkington, Programme Director- Leisure, Libraries and Cultural Services.
( to whom we are now being deferred, by Mary Worrall.)
asking for a moratorium on all tree cutting on the Wirral. in reference specifically in Ashton Park until AT LEAST an independent non-commercial survey can be done on behalf of petitioning constituents.
Please copy in;
-Margaret Greenwood; margaretgreenwood@wirral.gov.uk, or/and call her office 0151 792-3416 asking for her to  support your request and help save Wirrals trees
-Ourselves, at For Trees Wirral, in order for us to share (with or without your details attached) fortreeswirral@gmail.com
The tree fellers are pushing on before the nesting season starts….We need support NOW
Please Help to share this request 
Many Thanks for your support 
Diane Johnson, For Trees
PHONECALL JUST CAME FROM THE PARK….THEY ARE FELLING NOW!
PICTURES TAKEN 11th JANUARY :
ashton park 10
ashton park 9
ashton park 8

              ASHTON COURT – UPDATE.                              11 January 2019.

THE LAST DATE THAT WIRRAL METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL’S PLANNING DEPARTMENT WILL ACCEPT OBJECTIONS TO THE APP/18/01625 PLANNING APPLICATION IS TUESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2019.

To object…..google: Wirral.planning applications. Select ‘simple search’. Enter ‘Ashton Court. APP/18/01625’…….and present your objections.

The twenty two, unoccupied and neglected, retirement flats at Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby, should be refurbished and modernised. They should be kept as social, rented housing.

Planning application – APP/18/01625 proposes the demolition of the existing 22 retirement flats and the privatisation of Ashton Court, with the building of 14 houses, to be sold, privately.

Ashton Court is not a Brown Field Site, since it does not qualify as such under the National Planning Policy Framework (see the N.P.P.F. Glossary, Annex 2 – ‘Previously Developed Land’).

PLEASE object to the APP/18/01625 Planning application.

Write to: David Ball, Assistant Director ‘Major Growth Projects and Housing Delivery, Economic and Housing Growth Directorate’, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, P.O. Box 290, Brighton Street, Wallasey, Wirral, CH27 9FQ.

 Email: planningapplications@wirral.gov.uk   

Please invite your friends and neighbours to sign petitions objecting to the APP/18/01625 planning application. Thank you.
‘Magenta Living’ has created three companies to privatise some of the 13,000 social homes that it owns. The companies are: ‘Hilbre Homes’, ‘Starfish Commercial’ and ‘Bamboo Lettings’.
‘Magenta Living’ currently has 192 unoccupied properties. ‘Magenta Living’ is responsible for the neglect of the twenty two unoccupied homes at Ashton Court.
Since 2011 most of the twenty two Ashton Court homes have been wholly unoccupied and totally neglected by ‘Magenta Living’. The private gardens, in front of the Ashton Court homes have, for the last fifty years, provided a much appreciated green space, for local residents, half way along Banks Road.
Policy GRE1 of the Local Development Plan calls for Urban Green Spaces, including private gardens, like those at Ashton Court, to be protected. The Ashton Court gardens should be protected from building schemes since they are areas of visual importance to local residents and to visitors to West Kirby.
Many West Kirby residents object to Planning Application APP/18/01625 which seeks the DEMOLITION of twenty two flats at Ashton Court, Banks Road, West Kirby and the building of 14 houses (13 X 3-storey houses and 1 X 2-storey house). They are opposed to the ‘Magenta Living’ plan for the demolition of the existing homes at Ashton Court.

‘Magenta Living’ should refurbish and modernise the existing homes rather than destroy highly-valued urban green space at Ashton Court by building 14 tightly-packed, private houses. West Kirby’s remaining urban green spaces should be protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
                                                                                            

Published by: West Kirby Campaign Group.

March for Trees – November 25th

We’ve covered stories about preserving (and preferably not pollarding) Wirral’s trees and several of our readers have let us know about a protest march taking place through Ashton Park, West Kirby THIS SUNDAY , NOVEMBER 25th

IMG_2621

ASHTON PARK……..

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council should stop felling 19 mature trees

and removing branches from a further 24 trees, in Ashton Park, West Kirby.

Join a march through Ashton Park, to protest about the wholly unnecessary and wholly unjustified tree felling and damage to other trees, being undertaken by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council – at 11 a.m. on Sunday 25 November 2018. Meet under the Holm Oak tree alongside the Children’s Play Area, Ashton Park, West Kirby.

  1. A mature beech tree, has been felled over the last few days as has a mature oak tree. Other trees have also been felled, without any genuine environmental or health and safety justification.
  2.  There appears to have been no public participation prior to the decision to fell 19 trees and to remove branches from 24 other trees, all, apparently in the lower part of Ashton Park .
  3. More than 150 people have now signed a petition opposing the Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council plan to fell 19 trees and to remove branches from a further 24 trees.
  4. Many Councillors appear to be unaware of the benefits that trees can contribute to individuals and to communities.
  5. In the 16 October 1987 hurricane, 15 million trees were blown down, in the UK.
  6. Has Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council considered placing a skip in Ashton Park so that Tree ‘Surgeons’ can place their chain saws, as a part of an amnesty process, to save trees from further devastation?
  7. Tree surgeons often have very different opinions about the health of individual trees.
  8. Some tree surgeons appear to want to fell trees as a ‘first option’ rather than as a ‘last option’. The discovery of just one of hundreds of different fungi, living near or on the roots of trees or at the base of trees (like the fungi Meripilus Giganteum) appears to be enough for some tree surgeons to demand the felling of a mature tree. Yet, the evidence shows that mature beech trees can survive for many decades (and even hundreds of years) in a symbiotic relationship, with the fungi Meripilus Giganteum. Hollow trees are not at any greater risk of falling than are trees which are not hollow. Indeed, trees which are hollow should be treasured and protected with supporting spars.
  9. Trees with hollow spaces inside them can provide much needed roosting locations for bats, owls and woodpeckers.
  10. Tree surgeons are paid considerable sums of money to fell trees. Many tree surgeons, tree surveyors and tree management companies are paid by Biomass plants, where the chipped timber is burned.
  11. Very few people are injured by falling trees or branches. Most people tend to stay indoors during extreme weather conditions. There are far higher numbers of deaths and injuries caused by chainsaws being used to fell trees, and chippers being used to break them down, than there are by falling trees or branches. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated that the risk of death from naturally falling trees is ‘negligible’. Falling roof tiles pose a higher risk to people outdoors in storms, than is posed by trees.
  12. One mature tree produces enough oxygen for a family of four.
  13. Just 1 metre of hedgerow will filter the equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 cars. Removal of vegetation is damaging human health; 55,000 deaths from breathing-related diseases occur annually, in the UK.
  14. Tree canopy is the optimum habitat, ecologically, for woodlands. Mature trees are beneficial to urban areas. The canopy provides ecosystems above human interference, or from urban cats. The canopy provides bats and birdlife some safety from predation.
  15. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council spends approximately £220,000, annually, on tree felling and branch removal, yet appears not to have a budget for tree planting. The Council also spends £150,000 annually, on herbicide spraying (including the toxic glyphosate).
  16. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has no Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) for trees on Council land.
  17. Very few trees are permitted to grow to full maturity. It is doubtful if there are any trees on the Wirral peninsula that are over 1,000 years old.
  18. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council should commission highly experienced, reputable arboriculturists to survey trees, with priority given to protecting trees, NOT the felling of trees.
  19. One of Britain’s oldest trees is in Llangernyw, Conwy. It is thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. A rare, 1,000 year old tree can be seen in Calderstones Park, Liverpool. This tree is fenced off and its branches are supported.
  20. Some West Kirby residents have proposed linking arms around trees in order to save them from felling. They have noted that Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council appears not to have provided mechanical support (in the form of wooden or metal spars) for any trees within the borough. This is wholly unacceptable and illustrates the ill-informed held by some key individuals in the relevant Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council departments.
  21. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council should, as a matter of urgency, dramatically change its current environmental policies which are resulting in the felling of innumerable mature trees throughout the borough and the unnecessary cutting of branches on many more trees.
  22. Tree felling and the removal of branches should take place as a last resort and not as a first resort.
  23. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council should have a detailed and effective plan to preserve trees within the borough, for the benefit of present and future generations.
  24. Join a march through Ashton Park, to protest about the wholly unnecessary and wholly unjustified tree felling and damage to other trees, being undertaken by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council – at 11 a.m. on Sunday 25 November 2018. Meet under the Holm Oak tree alongside the Children’s Play Area, Ashton Park, West Kirby.
                          Published by ‘For Trees’ – fortreeswirral@gmail.com