Tree felling during bird nesting season 2018 on Grange Hill

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

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Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

On 19.7.2018, there was major tree loss on Grange Hill , which was carried out by Mancoed Services- apparently under the instructions of WBC.
Many healthy trees were felled :
healthy sycamores aged over 20 years along with numerous healthy elms and some elder, despite the works order was apparently to remove ‘dead elms’.
An immense quantity of mature ivy was also destroyed, much of which most likely housed roosting bats.
Grange Hill is a designated Site of Biological Importance, SBI. Mancoed are members of the Arbouricultural Association who themselves site the following:

“The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August (Natural England) and it is recommended that vegetation works (tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

As contractors we must aim to avoid impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and breaching the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive.”

As the dead elms had been dead for a number of years, I would like to know :

1. Which department / which officer ordered the felling of the trees?
2. Which trees were exactly asked to be removed?
3. Why was Mancoed asked to carry out the work during bird nesting season instead of waiting til autumn / winter?
4. were bat and bird nesting surveys carried out at this site prior to the felling?
5. If yes: when and by whom,?
6. Please disclose these specific surveys for this specific site ( Claremont Rd West Kirby)
7. Please also disclose the environmental survey for Grange Hill -carried out by Cheshire ecological service ( part of Wirral wildlife trust ) earlier this year.

Yours faithfully,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Müller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Ms Kuhlmann-Muller

 

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information
Act, please see below the Council's response to your enquiry.

 

1.     Which department / which officer  ordered  the felling  of the
trees?

The work was identified by Parks and Countryside as part of the ongoing
maintenance and safety of Grange Hill, and was identified by the
appropriate Team Leader for that area.

 

2.     Which trees  were  exactly asked  to be removed?

The primary job was the removal of dead elms adjacent to private property
and the footpath on that section of the Hill.

 

3.     Why was Mancoed asked  to carry out the work during bird nesting 
season instead of waiting  til autumn / winter?

Bird nesting season in itself does not preclude tree work being
undertaken.  Each job is assessed on its own requirements.  Having
re-checked these trees following further concern from a local resident,
the decision was made on health and safety grounds to remove these trees,
due to the fact they were dead and the structural integrity of the trees
could not be guaranteed, with the potential of risk to people and
property.  The decision was therefore made to remove these trees on the
grounds of health and safety.

 

4.     were  bat  and bird nesting surveys carried out at this site prior
to the felling?

The appropriate precautions including pre-work checks were undertaken, in
line with the Environmental Policies as laid out by our Contractor (copies
attached).  There was no requirement to do a survey, other than the
pre-work checks done by the fully accredited arboriculture contractor, who
had they identified an issue, would have taken the appropriate steps and
this would have included suspension of the work, if required.  In this
case, no issues were identified.  Included in the checks were aerial
checks of the trees prior to any work, which again helped to confirm it
was ok to proceed with the work as outlined.

 

 

5.     If yes: when and by whom,?

As above.

 

6.    Please disclose  these specific surveys for this specific site  (
Claremont  Rd  West Kirby)

       No specific surveys.

 

7.    Please also disclose  the environmental survey  for Grange  Hill
-carried out by Cheshire  ecological  service ( part of Wirral wildlife
trust ) earlier this year.

            Please see copy attached.

 

 

We trust that you find this information of assistance.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Business Management

Treasury Building

Argyle Street

Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

[1]Tel:0151 691 8397

[2][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

 

 

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Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Tree felling during bird nesting season 2018 on Grange Hill'.
please see my comments inserted under each of your answers.

1. Which department / which officer ordered the felling of the
trees?
The work was identified by Parks and Countryside as part of the ongoing
maintenance and safety of Grange Hill, and was identified by the
appropriate Team Leader for that area,

Could you please let me know the name of the appropriate team leader of that are,.who instructed the felling.

2. Which trees were exactly asked to be removed?
The primary job was the removal of dead elms adjacent to private property
and the footpath on that section of the Hill.

I had asked which trees EXACTLY were ordered to be removed, but you only gave an answer re the primary job –felling of dead elms.
However, many more healthy trees have been felled and are still marked to be felled.
Please disclose a copy of the work order with the instruction of ALL trees marked for felling.

3. Why was Mancoed asked to carry out the work during bird nesting
season instead of waiting til autumn / winter?
Bird nesting season in itself does not preclude tree work being
undertaken. Each job is assessed on its own requirements. Having
re-checked these trees following further concern from a local resident,
the decision was made on health and safety grounds to remove these trees,
due to the fact they were dead and the structural integrity of the trees
could not be guaranteed, with the potential of risk to people and
property. The decision was therefore made to remove these trees on the
grounds of health and safety.

Please disclose the survey re the checking of the structural integrity of the trees and how that had changed during the last 3 years. Please disclose who checked the structural integrity and with which methods.

4. were bat and bird nesting surveys carried out at this site prior
to the felling?
The appropriate precautions including pre-work checks were undertaken, in
line with the Environmental Policies as laid out by our Contractor (copies
attached). There was no requirement to do a survey, other than the
pre-work checks done by the fully accredited arboriculture contractor, who
had they identified an issue, would have taken the appropriate steps and
this would have included suspension of the work, if required. In this
case, no issues were identified. Included in the checks were aerial
checks of the trees prior to any work, which again helped to confirm it
was ok to proceed with the work as outlined.

The survey for Grange Hill conducted by Cheshire ecological services(CES) in March 2018 clearly states that no wooded work should be carried out between March and September in order not to disturb birds. If work needs to be carried out, a survey needs to be conducted.
Why did you not follow that advice and requested Mancoed to produce a thorough bird and bat survey?

The work was interrupted and is incomplete – does that indicate problems with bird nests and bat roosting?

5. If yes: when and by whom,?
As above.

6. Please disclose these specific surveys for this specific site (
Claremont Rd West Kirby)
No specific surveys.

7. Please also disclose the environmental survey for Grange Hill
-carried out by Cheshire ecological service ( part of Wirral wildlife
trust ) earlier this year.
Please see copy attached.

Thank you – that’s very informative.
.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Yours faithfully,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kuhlmann-Muller

 

We write further to your email of 24 August 2018 in which you have
requested an internal review be carried out into the response provided. 
Specifically you have highlighted a number of points and posed additional
questions arising from that response which I intend to address with this
internal review, having sought further input from the Parks & Countryside
service.  I have highlighted your queries below with bullet points:

 

Request

 

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough
Council's handling of my FOI request 'Tree felling during bird nesting
season 2018 on Grange Hill'.

please see my comments inserted under each of your answers.

 

1.     Which department / which officer  ordered  the felling  of the
trees?

The work was identified by Parks and Countryside as part of the ongoing
maintenance and safety of Grange Hill, and was identified by the
appropriate Team Leader for that area,

 

·         Could you please let me know the name of the appropriate team
leader of that area who instructed the felling.

 

2.     Which trees  were  exactly asked  to be removed?

The primary job was the removal of dead elms adjacent to private property
and the footpath on that section of the Hill.

 

·         I had asked which trees  EXACTLY  were ordered to be removed,
but you only gave an answer re the primary job –felling of dead elms.

However, many more healthy trees have been felled and are still marked to
be felled. Please disclose a copy of the work order with the instruction
of  ALL trees   marked for felling.

 

3.     Why was Mancoed asked  to carry out the work during bird
nesting season instead of waiting  til autumn / winter?

Bird nesting season in itself does not preclude tree work being
undertaken.  Each job is assessed on its own requirements.  Having
re-checked these trees following further concern from a local resident,
the decision was made on health and safety grounds to remove these trees,
due to the fact they were dead and the structural integrity of the trees
could not be guaranteed, with the potential of risk to people and
property.  The decision was therefore made to remove these trees on the
grounds of health and safety.

 

·         Please  disclose the survey re the checking of the structural 
integrity of the trees and how that had changed during the last  3 years.
Please disclose who checked the structural integrity and with which
methods.

 

4.     were  bat  and bird nesting surveys carried out at this site prior
to the felling?

The appropriate precautions including pre-work checks were undertaken, in
line with the Environmental Policies as laid out by our Contractor (copies
attached).  There was no requirement to do a survey, other than the
pre-work checks done by the fully accredited arboriculture contractor, who
had they identified an issue, would have taken the appropriate steps and
this would have included suspension of the work, if required.  In this
case, no issues were identified.  Included in the checks were aerial
checks of the trees prior to any work, which again helped to confirm it
was ok to proceed with the work as outlined.

 

The survey for Grange Hill conducted  by Cheshire ecological
services(CES)  in March 2018 clearly states that no wooded work should be
carried out between March and September in order not to disturb birds. If
work needs to be carried out, a survey needs to be conducted.

 

·         Why did you not follow that advice and requested Mancoed to
produce a thorough bird and bat survey?

 

·         The work was interrupted and is incomplete – does that indicate
problems with bird nests and bat roosting?

 

Review Response

 

 

·         In accordance with the Local Government Transparency Code where
posts attract a salary lower than £50,000 we do not release officer names,
just job titles.  This information is withheld under Section 40 (2) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as those staff members are not of
sufficient seniority to make releasing this information fair and lawful. 
I can confirm that the job title of the officer in question is Team
Leader, West Kirby, Hoylake and Meols.

 

·         Primarily the job was to remove the dead elms, however it was
also found to be necessary to remove a small number of elm suckers to
prevent future problems.  The legacy of Dutch Elm Disease is that once
regrowth reaches a certain size, in most cases it gets attacked again by
Dutch Elm, dies and then becomes a potential hazard.  In this particular
case, it was close to residential areas and a footpath so to prevent
future health and safety issues, the Local Authority acted in accordance
with its legal and moral obligation to exercise the appropriate duty of
care.

 

·         There are no recorded surveys. Once the trees were reported as
dead, they were kept under visual monitoring. Following some additional
concerns expressed by residents and site users, and following a further
site visit, the decision was made, on health and safety grounds, to remove
the trees.  As the trees had been dead for a number of years, it was
considered that removal was the appropriate action, for the reasons
stated.

 

·         The recent Ecology document is just an additional tool in the
supporting documents used to help manage the site.  As previously stated,
when our contractor undertakes work, the appropriate checks are carried
out to ensure compliance with any required legislation and regulation
around bird nesting, bats etc.  This was further supported by an aerial
check of the trees.  In line with our policy, the work would have been
postponed had there been any issues identified.

 

·         The interruption of the work was unrelated to any issues
regarding bird nesting.  It was interrupted due to concerns about the
safety of a third party and the actions they took to disrupt the work and
the safety of the team undertaking that work.  Advice is being sought in
regard to ensuing that an outstanding health and safety issue can be
resolved in a timely manner.

 

 

Upon review I am satisfied that your request has been appropriately
handled and that all recorded information has been disclosed to you.  If
you remain dissatisfied, your next step is to complain to the Information
Commissioner at [1]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Yours sincerely

 

Lynette Paterson

Principal Information Management Officer

Business Management

 

Treasury Building

Argyle Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

 

[2]Tel: 0151 691 8201

[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

[4]LGC Awards15_Winner_MIP

 

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager.

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
2. file:///tmp/tel:0151
3. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]