Doncaster Council’s top boss responds to tree felling programme

Doncaster Council has published a lengthy statement on why they have removed over 60 healthy street trees despite a backlash from environmental campaigners.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 4:27 pm

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council’s (DMBC) top environment boss Dan Swaine, who has been in the job less than four weeks, said they ‘didn’t take the decision lightly’ in felling the trees on Middlefield Road in Bessacarr and all other ‘alternative solutions’ had been exhausted.

The lengthy statement goes on to say that tree roots had caused ‘significant damage’ to pavements, boundary walls and driveways to which campaigners disagree.

A public consultation was carried out and the council said the majority of residents supported the action but campaigners said no alternative solution was offered – only complete removal.

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DMBC’s top environment boss Dan Swaine, who has been in the job less than four weeks, said they ‘didn’t take the decision lightly’ in felling the trees on Middlefield Road in Bessacarr

Director of economy and environment Dan Swaine, said: “The removal of these trees is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“We value street trees but in this instance we have had to act. The trees and roots on Middlefield Road have been causing safety issues and damage to boundary walls, driveways and footpaths for a number of years.

“The trees have caused significant damage to the footway because of lateral root growth.

“The decision to remove the trees is for no other reason than to comply with our legal duties to maintain the highway.

“We have tried alternative solutions over a number of years to maintain the highway in a safe condition, unfortunately reaching the current position where this was no longer possible.”

The news comes after the cabinet member responsible for highways was accused by campaigners of ‘misleading the public’ after Coun Joe Blackham told a full council meeting that a Sheffield protester agreed with their actions.

The council started felling in January but stopped after intervention from prominent environmental barrister Paul Powlesland who said the authority ‘could be breaking the law’.

DMBC officers ordered the felling to start again in October after they said the Forestry Commission told them they ‘do not need a felling licence’ in order to carry out the work.

Mr Swaine added: “Under the draft Tree Policy, we are committed to talking with local communities about tree management, assessing trees individually and not as a collective and working towards the aims of our climate change ambitions.

“We are happy to take further comments on the draft Tree Policy in due course. We do want to work in partnership with our communities and interest groups for the benefit of the borough.”

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