The proposed ‘duty to consult’ in relation to street tree removal which was promised in the 2017 Conservative party manifesto was opened for consultation on 31 December 2018. The consultation period lasts until 28 February 2019.
These proposals should be regarded as one of the most significant issues that the tree officer community has ever been faced with; this is legislation which would directly impact the way in which tree officers do their work. The LTOA believes that each and every one of our members should participate in this consultation and ensure that their voice is heard.
The full document can be found here:
You should read the whole document for yourself but in summary the government is proposing four changes:
1. A duty to consult on the felling of street trees;
2. A duty to report tree felling and replanting;
3. Production of best practice guidance for local authorities to produce a tree strategy;
4. Giving the Forestry Commission more powers to tackle illegal tree felling.
Proposals one and two in particular would have a significant impact on tree officers. For the ‘duty to consult’ the Government’s preferred option is for a consultation on every tree proposed for felling during a four week consultation period, requiring a notice to be put on a tree, and letters sent to local residents in close proximity to the tree (a 100x100m area around the tree in question). If more than 50% of respondents disagree with the proposal, then a further consultation is triggered.
On Tuesday January 8th a stakeholder workshop was held in Birmingham by Defra which was attended by a wide range of representatives from across the arboricultural industry. Three members of the LTOA Executive Committee were in attendance including Chair Barbara Milne. The LTOA is ensuring that tree officers are being considered in this process but it is essential that as many of you as possible also get involved.
A small LTOA working party has been formed to review the consultation document on Wednesday 16 January in detail and produce a LTOA response. Once agreed by the Executive Committee this will be submitted to the government on behalf of the LTOA. We will also circulate the submission to the LTOA Membership so that you have the option to use it as the basis for your own response, should you want to. If you have any comments which you would like the working party to consider then please email Becky no later than close of play on Tuesday 15 January.
This is a matter of huge importance to all tree officers – please take the time to read the consultation document and respond accordingly.