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Agenda item

Review of Tree Safety Management Policy

To approve the updated Tree Safety Management Policy. 

Subject To Call In::Yes - No action to be taken prior to the expiry of the call-in period.

Decision:

That the updated Tree Safety Management Policy be APPROVED.  

Minutes:

58.1          The report of the Asset Manager, circulated at Pages No. 60-69, attached an updated Tree Safety Management Policy for Members to approve.

58.2          The Asset Manager reiterated to the Committee that this was a safety management policy not a tree planting strategy. The current Tree Safety Management Policy had been in place since 2012 in its current form and had worked well. It had been scrutinised by the Council’s insurers as one of its higher risk liabilities and had been updated in line with best practice and common sense management of trees approach laid out in the National Tree Safety Group publication for the safe management of trees. The Policy was a risk-based approach around the location and size of the tree meaning a large tree by a school would be inspected more often than one in Lassington Wood. It was an integral part of the safe management of trees in protecting people and property from harm and the Council’s policy detailed the risk management of trees by maturity, location and likelihood of risk to people or property. The Council had over 5,000 trees on land in its ownership and was required to have a tree safety management plan and inspection regime to ensure the risk of falling trees and branches was managed to reduce the risk of injury or damage to property. The authority used a software system for the management and recording of tree inspections and this was currently contracted to Ubico and overseen by the Environmental Health Officers and the Property Team along with an Officer Working Group – the Tree Risk Action Group (TRAG) – which included Property, Environmental Health, the Tree Officer and the Insurance Officer.

58.3          A Member felt the Council generally had a good track record with its tree management except where trees in residential areas had grown extremely large which caused frustrations for homeowners who bought homes being told they would be kept under control. The Asset Manager confirmed that the number of complaints had reduced since the recording system had been implemented that showed which trees belonged to the Council. Occasionally, there were trees that should not have been there, or the wrong tree was planted in the wrong location – those were removed and planted in a more suitable location – all issues were considered by the TRAG and Officers tried to work with the public as it was understood there was no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Sometimes trees were planted as noise bunds and some of those matured to 30 feet high – residents often felt those should be hedges but that was not the case. Properties were more likely to be susceptible to subsidence in high clay areas like Tewkesbury Borough and those needed to be managed appropriately understanding that trees were important. The Tree Officer looked at monetary value as well as carbon value to understand how best to manage and secure trees wherever possible. In response to a query regarding the loss of trees through Ash dieback, the Asset Manager explained that there was an inspection policy around dangerous trees and there were experts who inspected Ash dieback on a grading system; in the Council’s experience, there were only a handful of trees each year that had to be removed as it did not have a large population of Ash trees within its estate.

58.4          Having considered the information provided, it was

Action By:HF&AM

Supporting documents: