Published on December 7th, 2019 | by Teresa Vigay1
SAVE OUR STREET TREES
Beautiful trees, both on our streets and in our parks are among Handsworth’s greatest assets. Not only do they enhance the appearance of the area, but they counteract pollution, improve air quality, provide a habitat for wildlife, absorb excess rain water and give shade in the summer.
It is shocking that the council should even consider chopping down a healthy tree that is well over 100 years old, to make way for car parking. Fortunately after several residents complained and emailed both the council and local councillors, common sense prevailed, the situation was reviewed and the tree saved. But if the residents had not protested that tree would no longer be there. The fact that the council said a new tree would have been planted elsewhere is no compensation for the loss both to the street and the environment.
Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for Transport and the Environment, was very helpful during the campaign to save the tree. He explained that Birmingham City Council have a general policy to increase tree canopy and avoid unnecessary removal, but they also have a policy to provide as much off street parking as possible, which seems rather contradictory. When making the decision about whether to remove a tree or not, they have a point system for the tree (including health, age, avenue effect) and for the parking (including congestion, width of road, disability). They act according to whichever gets the highest score. I would argue that trees should get more priority than cars – particularly as cars are exacerbating the problem of air pollution in this city. If there is a disabled resident, then a disabled parking bay could be painted on the road, instead of felling a tree for a dropped kerb.
Birmingham City Council has recently set up Route to Zero, a task force aimed at tackling climate change and helping Birmingham become carbon neutral by 2030. If they are really serious about environmental issues then they should take more action to preserve our trees.
One tree has been saved, but there is no guarantee the trees will not be threatened again in the near future. So the local residents of Windermere Road are looking into applying for a Tree Preservation Order for the street trees, which would make it much harder for the council to remove them.
If you are concerned about any local trees it really is worth fighting for them.
For information on Tree Preservation Orders:
The Woodland Trust are also a useful source of information and have advice on TPO’s