Agenda item

Gary Cowan asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:



How many trees has this Council given permission to be cut down each year for the last five years? 




How many trees has this Council given permission to be cut down each year for the last five years? 



The Council does not keep a record of the number of such instances. It is very rare for the Council to grant a planning consent where the number of trees lost exceeds those proposed for planting; indeed in the vast majority of cases the number of trees planted vastly exceeds those that are lost. It is worth noting that the Council has secured the planting of approximately 30,000 new trees on the nine SANGs that have been completed so far in the Borough. You will recall I gave more detail on that at the Council meeting last week in response to a question. 


Supplementary Question

When we see articles such as the “massacre of the tress supported by the Executive Member” and then “more trees cut down supported by a Deputy Executive Member” followed by an “abhorrent butchery of trees in Elms Field” and linking this to TPO trees cut down in Arborfield I need to comment that when I objected I was told that both elected Members and the public knew nothing about the trees and the Council didn’t consult on cutting them down.  Adding to that the potential madness of building 1,000 houses on Barkham Square which will result in many more hundreds of trees being felled.  To sum it all up I could easily say read a letter in the Wokingham paper which was headed “Why don’t Councillors stand up for the Borough?” and we would like an answer.  So my question is as this Council has the world’s worst reputation for cutting down trees, especially those with TPOs on them, can I have an assurance that when they start concreting all over Grazeley with approximately 15,000 houses you will spare John Redwood’s oak on which a  placard was placed in late 1998?  The placard says “May the birds that rest in my branches always sing out over the green fields of Berkshire”


Supplementary Answer

The Deputy Leader of Council responded as follows:

Gary I would like to say that you were instrumental in actually getting additional tree officers into this Authority and I could not agree that it is the world’s worst: Sheffield is notorious for cutting down things.  We have actually planted 30,000 trees as has been said.  But the thing that I mentioned at the Council meeting, which I am going to mention again, is that we worked very closely with Barbara Stagles when I was Leader of this Authority and we planted the 60 Jubilee oak trees jointly with the Veteran Tree Association and this Council paid for them.  We do not go down hacking down trees and you know that very clearly because of the work you have done when you were in charge of that.


The Executive Member for Environment responded as follows:

You asked a question about those particular trees at Council about six months ago and we gave you an answer to that.  As you were aware there was long e-mail correspondence about those trees which you were involved in and in the case of those particular trees there was no statutory duty to consult and they didn’t consult.  They speak to the parish and town councils about such things but there was no statutory duty to consult.


I think as far as Elms Field is concerned there has been a very, very long planning process and it was pretty clear quite a number of years ago what was going to happen on Elms Field so no-one should be surprised about what has happened as far as Elms Field is concerned.  As we also said at the Council meeting last week: yes trees have been cut down.  There are about 100 semi-mature trees to be planted as part of the scheme in Elms Field.  There will be hedgerows planted and there are going to be nesting boxes and all sorts of things to make sure that the wildlife is suitably looked after and that the environment will be enhanced in time.