Council explains why there was an attempt to chop down tree despite 'last resort' policy

Doncaster Council has moved to explain why workmen attempted to cut down a tree without consulting campaigners just weeks after the authority adopted a ‘felling is a last resort’ policy.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Doncaster Council director of economy and environment, with some felled trees

Tree campaigner and Green party member Kate Needham, said that she received a call from a resident in Cantley that workmen were chopping the cherry tree down close to a house on Willow Avenue.

Campaigners said the incident showed the council had ‘gone back on their word’ but local authority bosses said the tree while standing, was on St Leger Homes land and was in ‘poor condition’.

But they added that work had been paused and they were in discussions with those involved to see what solution could be sought.

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A new tree policy was agreed following protests about the unnecessary felling of 64 trees in Middlefield Road in Bessacarr.

The majority of trees along the road were felled despite protests and even the arrest of a campaigner who was later released without charge.

Campaigners and council bosses sat down to discuss a new strategy and said contested trees would involve consulting relevant parties.

On the incident in Cantley, Ms Needham said: “When challenged, the workmen stopped the felling and began pruning nearby instead.

“I contacted DMBC to remind them they had agreed that the public are supposed to be notified and a thorough investigation should be carried out before trees are felled.

“I have now been told that the original reason for felling the trees had already been resolved so the planned felling is completely unnecessary.

“It is becoming clear that there is dysfunction at the heart of the Doncaster Council tree team where new policy and ways of working are not being effectively relayed to the workforce.”

Last month, Doncaster Council released a statement saying that it has committed to the principle of ‘minimal tree removal’ as a last resort and where no alternative solution can be found.

Dan Swaine, director of economy and environment, said: “The tree in question is situated on land managed by St Leger Homes and, whilst it remains standing, it is in a poor condition.

“It has previously been recommended for removal following advice from our tree team, and any works were planned in advance of our recently approved revised Tree Policy.

“We recognise that concerns have now been raised about the tree and we have stopped any work.

“We are in discussions with St Leger Homes about ‘next steps’ and we will consider its condition against the new policy and update the concerned parties in due course.”

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