Tuesday, 21 July 2015

District Council moves forward with 'the value and protection of trees'

The District Council's policy on trees is pretty solid:
Trees and hedgerows - East Devon
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in East Devon

It encourages volunteers to get involved:

Tree wardens

Get involved with tree matters and encourage practical tree-based projects
The role of tree warden was created by the Tree Council in 1987 in response to the Great Storm. It's a national initiative to enable people to play an active role in conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods.
Most of the parishes in East Devon already have one or more tree wardens but there are some gaps, so any potential tree wardens are encouraged to get in touch with us or their local town or parish council to find out if the tree warden role is vacant.
There's no set job description for tree wardens - what they do varies from parish to parish, depending on the individual's strengths and interests. Some carry out tree surveys to generate a tree register for the parish and some go into schools to talk about trees and engage local children or lead a tree planting project. On the other hand, a tree warden may simply be a designated person who will react to tree issues when they occur within their parish.
We send out information to the tree wardens from the Tree Council and other arboricultural organisations.

Tree wardens - East Devon

The District Council's Scrutiny Cttee's Tree TAFF (Task & Finish Forum) met last year and looked at 'the value and protection of trees':
Futures Forum: Protecting trees in East Devon: District Council Tree committee meeting: Friday 5th December

There was rather an inauspicious start:
Real Zorro: Clr Howard's (A)way - How trees became politically dangerous in #EDDC
Tory chairman of East Devon tree scrutiny task force resigns at its first meeting - Claire Wright

But things quickly settled down:
EDDC tree task forum examines enforcement and prosecution - Claire Wright

Now, the TAFF on trees has produced its final report - as presented to the last cabinet meeting:

Minute 5 – Final report of the Tree Task and Finish Forum 

1. That Tree officers be involved in pre planning application meetings as standard; greater involvement at an early stage would benefit the process and enable any issues to be addressed in a timely way; 

2. That, as part of the Systems Thinking review of the tree service at East Devon, to look at national guidance and best practice and where appropriate to look to adopt this within new work flow systems; 

3. That a review be undertaken of information provided on the Council’s website relating to arboriculture, and produce new web guidance on the main work areas to reduce service demand; 

4. That the decision on the choice of which TPO system is to be adopted be made by the Arboricultural Service, but for weight to be given to the importance of providing guidance notes with the TPO form to reduce ‘preventable demand’ 

5. That the Council develops a Tree Enforcement Policy; 

6. That guidance be given to community groups working on Neighbourhood Plans to encourage particular consideration to be given to addressing issues in respect of trees and how their value within the community and landscape can be recorded and protected – the guidance to be drawn up by the Arboricultural Service in consultation with the planning policy team; 

7. That the Development Management and Planning Enforcement team (with technical support from the Arboricultural Service) look for effective ways to monitor the future protection of trees following development of a site – this to include criteria for monitoring and how to involve local councils and ward members in this process so that information is fed back to the Council as quickly and effectively as possible; 

8. That the benefits of remote data capture be supported and the Arboricultural Service be encouraged to undertake trials of the system so that it can be used to develop a districtwide on-line database of trees. In addition, to investigate the feasibility and cost of open mapping to plot the district’s trees and calculate their ecosystem service benefits in monetary terms. (There is potential for this system, if effective, to be extended for use by community groups and tree wardens to help with logging tree information across the district – this information could also be used to populate Neighbourhood Plans); 

9. That the current arrangement of local councils with Quality Status and dealing with applications for work to trees be reviewed. Although local determination of applications adds value to the customer experience, local councils seek advice from the arboricultural service and so none of the work burden was taken from the arboricultural team. In addition, not all of the decisions taken by the local councils follow advice given by officers; there have been appeals against decisions where a tree of poor quality had been approved for protection, contrary to advice from officers. This has resulted in delays in issuing a decision notice; 

10.That following adoption of the Local Plan, the Planning Team, in round table consultation with the Arboricultual Service and all other services that have tree assets (including Streetscene, Housing and Countryside), develop a Tree Strategy to fit with other guidance, support and policy documents, to be taken into account during development and other related decision making. 

The Strategy to include: 
a. the Council’s aims in respect of urban and rural planting and the green infrastructure, trees and development, to incorporate a replacement tree strategy 
b. subsidence c. public liability, health and safety, duty of care, determination of tree works applications, the recognition and analysis of the benefits or urban and rural forests and tree canopies to the environmental, aesthetic, economic and social well being of the area and how these could be maintained and enhanced 
d. the authority’s perception and value of trees within the district 
e. the importance of succession planting 
f. tree protection including TPOs , reviewing TPOs, enforcement and supplementary guidance 
g. the effective capture and monitoring of data relating to canopy cover 
h. efficient management of all trees including council owned trees 
i. sustainability 
j. climate change 
k. guidance on species choice and planting 
l. how to achieve effective partnership working with the district’s communities, agencies and organisations m. examples of best practice n. education 

11.That the Arboricultural Service work with other relevant EDDC services and its partners to develop a programme of education to widen the public’s knowledge of trees and their value within the environment.

Scrutiny Committee minutes of a meeting held on 25 June 2015

No comments: