Council’s 30 Year Unrealistic Decision For Nature Recovery Project

It was reported at last weeks Sandyford & Goldenhill Residents Public Meeting where 160 residents and guests attended that £50,000 of 106 monies from developers has been allocated to replace trees and hedges in the area.

The council said 1/3 of the money will go to purchase & plant trees/hedges and 2/3 to maintain them for the next 30 years. The residents association were not happy with this decision and said a 50/50 split was more acceptable before contacting the Council’s Director, Jon Rouse who said enough money needs to be left within the funding pot to adequately manage and maintain the new habitat for a minimum of 30 years. He went onto say, this is non-negotiable and I am told that any other position would be contrary to the legal agreement. He then added, the advice from the planning team is that the proposal to use 1/3 of the money upfront to purchase and plant the trees and the remaining 2/3 then retained for the management is the correct approach.

The residents association contacted an expert who said, a typical maintenance period is usually 3 years to get trees established. I can understand a 5 year contract to ensure trees survive beyond the 3 years as a 106 agreement is in place. 10 years max as trees should be looking after themselves by then, if proper maintenance has been carried out. He said, I have never heard of a contract for maintenance lasting 30 years and certainly not from a local authority in my 45 years in arboriculture. The setting of a 30 year contract in this context I would say, from experience, is categorically unrealistic, and certainly as a training provider for the industry teaching up to and at Master’s degree level it is not something we have ever taught or come across. He further said, in my expert opinion, the focus of your discussions with the local authority need to focus on reducing the length of the 30 year contract as this is not realistic and is a nonsense, adding they can set whatever timescale they wish e.g. 5 years , 10 years etc. I would strongly suggest a 5 year contract is the optimum time frame that is realistic and valid to ensure trees are established successfully beyond the initial 3 years.

The residents association said they are completely dissatisfied with the outcome of the council, being they have lost so much green space through industrial and housing developments, which they have supported on many occasion, and when they need the council to give what we think is reasonable and realistic, we feel they have closed the door on our request to replace some of the greenery in Sandyford & Goldenhill that will help keep the air we breathe cleaner, not only for us but for future generations. The residents association said that we know councillors can get involved to change this unrealistic approach by the council to support its residents in our area, although the concern which S.A.G.E. has is that any new developments across the city will have the opportunity to have similar 106 monies made available to them, and what happens in Sandyford/Goldenhill will be a city wide issue, so this is why Jonathan Gullis M.P. was asked to fight our corner by asking Abi Brown, Leader of the Council to overturn this unrealistic & none compromisable position which the City Council is now taking. Unfortunately, Abi Brown, Council Leader responded to Jonathan Gullis prior to the meeting saying that she agrees with the Council Director’s response.

The residents association finally said, it is disappointing the council and Council Leader are unable to listen to what the residents association, ward councillor, M.P. and expert Arboriculturist have to say in respect to them changing this unrealistic view the council has taken to keep almost 70% of £50,000 to maintain trees over a 30 year period.

Councillor Chandra Kanneganti in his report to residents said that he is trying very hard to get what is being asked for by the residents association with the 106 biodiversity lost green space money. He further added that officers at the council are saying what it is for them, but it’s what is best for us that matters.

Further comments from Jonathan Gullis M.P. at the meeting to 106 monies from developers to replace trees/hedges in the area is that it’s not right to what is on offer, and with respect the money needs to be invested into our community. The M.P. went onto say that he does not get why a 50/50 split (purchase/plant & maintenance) is not acceptable, and said he will stand shoulder to shoulder with Sandyford & Goldenhill Residents Association (S.A.G.E.), further adding that he sees no reason why this can’t happen.

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