TREE QUESTIONS for Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors.

Currently waiting for a response from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

TREE QUESTIONS for Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors.

Hundreds of people have, over the course of the last three weeks, signed a petition calling for a halt to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's tree felling activities. The plan to fell 19 mature trees, within Ashton Park, West Kirby - AND to take branches from a further 24 trees is wholly unacceptable.

PROTECTION of trees should be the top priority and not the last resort of those employed with the responsibility for trees, by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

If you could provide detailed and specific responses to the following questions, concerning the protection of trees, within the Wirral Metropolitan Borough, I would be very grateful.

Questions:

Please provide specific locations of ALL trees over 1000 years of age, inside the Wirral Metropolitan Borough borders;
Please provide specific locations of ALL trees over 500 years of age, inside the Wirral Metropolitan Borough borders;
Please provide details of how many native trees are to be planted by employees of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, during the next 20 years;
Please provide details of specific, individual trees, within the borders of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, that the Council intends to do all in its power to protect to 1000 years of age;
Please provide details of all mature trees, within the borders of Wirral Metropolitan Borough, that have branches supported by wooden or metal spars;
What specific efforts has Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council made to implement the recommendations put forward in the 'Trees in Towns' report?
What percentage of land, within the Wirral Metropolitan Borough of the Wirral, is covered by trees or woodland?;
Please provide a detailed list of how Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council sees trees to be beneficial;
Has Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council an economic value on each of the trees within the borough? Torbay and Islington councils have done so, using i-tree software; and
What plans has Wirral Metrolitan Borough Council to appoint a Senior Tree Officer who sees the benefits of trees rather than seeing trees as a nuisance or as a danger?

TREE QUESTIONS [2]

for Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors.

(a) Please provide the total numbers of trees on the Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council list of trees with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), for each of the last ten years (2009 to 2018). Please explain all changes to the overall totals provided?

(b) Will Councillors and MPs please provide details of the means used by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council for assessing the amenity value of individual trees within the borough?

(c) Please explain why no trees, on land owned by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, have been provided with the protection of a Tree Preservation Order. What plans has Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council got to protect trees on publicly owned land with TPOs?

(d) At the beginning of November 2018 a beautiful, mature beech tree was removed from the Children's Play Area, in Ashton Park. The reason provided was that the tree was affected by the fungus Meripilus Giganteus. The Meripilus Giganteus fungus has had a symbiotic relationship with beech trees for centuries (and probably thousands of years), whereby the fungus feeds on the wood in the centre of beech trees, making the trees, over the course of many decades, hollow. Hollow trees are structurally stronger than completely solid trees. They can live, healthily for many decades together, in harmony. The fungus associated with the Ashton Park beech tree would have been better named Meripilus Invisibleus, since there is absolutely no sign of the fungus around the base of the tree.....as opposed to how it would have been seen, if present ( see the illustrations of the fungus shown on page 221 of the book: 'Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Europe', by Roger Phillips. Pan Books. 1981). The Meripilus Giganteus fungus is known to affect the base and roots of beech trees. Yet Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has chosen to leave the roots and 12 feet of the beech tree trunk in situ......confirming that there was no significant presence of Meripilus Giganteus associated with the tree. Plans to have the remains of the tree trunk shaped into a dolphin or a kangaroo, by someone utilising a chain saw, appear to be wholly absurd, especially if the base and roots of the tree had been seriously affected by a devastating fungus (as Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has argued). What was the real motivation for the felling of this much admired tree?

(e) On 16 October 1987 a hurricane hit the south of England, resulting in the loss of 15 million trees. This prompted a massive tree planting programme (often involving many Primary school children) by every local authority, initiated by experienced arboriculturists. The loss of trees most definitely did not prompt a tree felling programme. It prompted a tree planting programme. Yet, in 2017/2018, when one or two trees were blown down, in Ashton Park (or on the Wirral Way, nearby), Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's reaction was to prompt a tree felling programme, not to launch a tree planting programme. Will Councillors and MPs please explain this wholly unacceptable policy decision making?

(f) Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council should immediately halt its tree felling programme and launch a tree planting programme. Will Councillors, and the MPs please provide assurances that the tree felling will stop NOW and a specific date when a tree planting programme will start?

(g) Will Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors consider introducing a series of tree care courses, for officers of the Council who have responsibility for tree care, to make sure that no more trees are felled without any reasonable justification?

(h) Will Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors consider introducing a series of tree care courses, for officers of the Council who have responsibility for tree care, to make sure that the officers are fully cognisant of the techniques that can be used to support hollow trees?

(i) Will Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors consider introducing a series of tree care courses, for officers of the Council who have responsibility for tree care, to make sure that the officers are fully cognisant of the techniques that can be used to support the branches of trees which need structural support?

(j) Will Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors consider introducing a series of tree care courses, for officers of the Council who have responsibility for tree care, to make sure that the officers are fully cognisant of the need to protect trees of all ages, with the clear intention of establishing large numbers of trees which will, eventually, acquire the status of being ‘aged or veteran trees’? As a consequence of consistent and pervasive tree felling, throughout the borough, it is clear that there are now NO ‘aged or veteran trees’ (defined in the National Planning Policy Framework glossary as: “a tree which, because of its great age, size or condition is of exceptional value for wildlife, in the landscape, or culturally”) within Wirral Metropolitan borough. This is an appalling situation that will need short term planning, medium term planning and long term planning (meaning over the course of hundreds of years) to rectify.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

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