Report from the Cabinet Member Commercial and Operations.
Members were advised to consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations. Three documents had been produced (Appendices 1-3) to create a coherent model to guide how the Council dealt with trees, including a ‘Member Tree Notification Protocol’, a ‘Charter for Trees, Woods and People’ and ‘Tree Guidelines’. These documents had been produced in response to requests for the Council to formulate a clearer, more formal stance to its approach to trees and tree management. The Committee discussed each of the documents in turn and had the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.
South Kesteven District Council Member Tree Notification Protocol
This document had been produced to support the role of Members in their Wards, providing them with the relevant information needed to respond to their area constituents regarding major tree works. Members were reminded that decisions regarding major works to be carried out in respect of trees would have been made after receiving a professional report and in the interest of public safety. As such, the works themselves would be non-negotiable, but the guidance of the document would aid the communication of such matters to Members and the public. Members noted the importance of having such a document.
Some amendments to the document were suggested:
Ø Points 6, 7 and 8 to include ‘notify ward and Cabinet Member’ under the ‘additional proposed’ heading
Ø The layout to be reconsidered to allow the clear separation of points relating to trees falling under the responsibility of the Council, and trees outside of Council owned areas
Members discussed Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), as mentioned in the protocol document. It was considered that further information could be collected regarding how many TPOs there were currently in the Council’s area, and where the corresponding trees were situation. Members asked how a TPO could be attained. Officers advised that the Planning section was responsible for keeping information regarding TPOs. Members suggested that an officer from Planning could be invited to a future meeting to provide further information on the subject.
Ø An officer from Planning to be invited to a future Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting to provide further information regarding Tree Protection Orders
Charter for Trees, Woods and People
Members were advised that this document had been produced with the support of the Woodland Trust who had helped the Council to produce the Charter as an adaptation of their own Tree Charter, acknowledging the requirement for the Council to balance its positive commitment to trees with its wider obligations as a public sector organisation. Members welcomed the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, considering that the Council should have a proactive approach to trees and tree cover.
The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends to Cabinet to propose that Council endorses the draft ‘Local Government Charter for Trees, Woods and People: Principles’
Tree Guidelines for the Management of Trees within South Kesteven District
Members expressed that the Tree Guidelines document complemented other work currently being progressed by the Council, supporting its overall aim to be deliberate in its approach to climate change. During discussion, Members considered the national challenge of increasing tree cover in order to support climate objectives and noted the importance of replanting where possible after major tree works had been undertaken, as well as ensuring that developers followed through on their tree planting objectives as outlined in planning conditions. Members suggested that further to the Council’s current procedure of replanting when possible as a course of best practice in its open spaces, this could be developed into policy in order for the Council to play an increased role in contributing to the solution of tree cover. Developing a policy relating to tree replanting would also allow for the negotiation of budgetary support for the purchase of new trees.
Ø Information to be provided for Members indicating the typical costs incurred by purchasing and planting trees, with examples
Ø Members to consider the development of a policy outlining the Council’s provision for replanting trees
That the Council endorses the ‘Tree Guidelines for the Management of Trees with South Kesteven District’, with the provision that the document be an on-going development to be reviewed in one year.