|Address||Stoke Lodge Sports Ground Shirehampton Road Sea Mills Bristol
|Proposal||Ash (T8 on plan, part of G7 on TPO 1192) Crown lift to 8m on the Pavilion side . Remove the basal shoot and any hanging branches or deadwood in the crown. Remove the three lowest limbs that overhang the footpath outside of the playing fields.|
|Type||Tree Preservation Order|
|BCC Planning Portal||on Planning Portal|
|Public Comments||Supporters: 10 Objectors: 97 Unstated: 2 Total: 109|
|No. of Page Views||0|
|Comment analysis||Map Date of Submission|
|Nearby Trees||Within 200m|
Recommendation submitted 31-07-20
We have now submitted our objections to this application. They can be read via this link: https://bristoltreeforum.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/planning-application-20-03288-vp-btf-comments.pdf
My first comment is that it is refreshing to see an Application for work to a TPO tree on Stoke Lodge Playing Field being submitted for public scrutiny.
I am alarmed to see that the Applicant declares that it already has an opinion that the work is reasonable and required from the authority to whom it has made this Application to carry out the work, and this prior to the Application being submitted for public scrutiny. What trust can we put in this process?
The residents of Bristol have for several years witnessed works to TPO trees on this site carried out without prior Application by this Applicant, even though UK Statute/Regulation says that no work to TPO trees, even (importantly) amongst the roots, shall be carried out without the consent granted following a successful Application. This is so that Conditions to any consent granted can be set, and there can then follow enforcement of those conditions if they are breached. This is true even when any tree works are being carried out under the terms of Permitted Development (PD), and the application of these rules is not discretionary.
Bristol City Council (BCC) for a while apparently did not require such an Application when tree works were being done under Permitted Development at this site, yet when BCC carries out tree work itself at this site it has always made an Application. Perhaps the other works were not PD associated?
Only following months of howls of protest from residents, insisting that BCC adhered to UK regulation, have we seen any such Applications required to be made by this Applicant for works on trees at this site, but even then, formal public applications for works to TPO trees have not always been required by the Planning Authority for this site by this Applicant.
This occasional change was too late to prevent the abuse of some of the trees, and the effects of concrete having been poured amongst the roots of several truly splendid precious trees, even a Veteran Oak, and the use of power tools amongst their roots, are yet to be seen. There has been a belief expressed that if a tree is damaged one day and does not fall over the next day, then no damage has been done. This is nonsense of course. Some recent infringements, highlighted by residents, are still under investigation.
This may seem a long-winded pre-amble, but the context for this Application needs to be set because the tree that is the subject of this Application has already been damaged twice, and by the same Applicant - and this is a matter of public record - apparently with the prior knowledge of departments within BCC who did not request a formal Application despite UK regulation.
The Ash tree in question has twice had to suffer excavation of its roots, close to its trunk, both using a mechanical digger. The second excavation was done in the same site despite the requirement to carry out remedial works following the first episode, which remedial works were required by BCC only following further howls of protest from residents, who were at first disbelieved until they produced video evidence of the event. Evidence of the second episode has been produced by protestors and there has been admonishment issued to the Applicant, again.
This is a mature Ash Tree protected by TPO No 1192. It does not have Ash die-back disease. Even if it did, the presence of that disease is not a reason to fell it unless it poses an immediate danger. Indeed, keeping affected trees is encouraged by the National bodies who know about such things, as some trees are naturally resistant, or may develop resistance having become infected.
"Crown lifting" sounds grand and beneficial, but is effectively a very heavy prune. Pruning a tree has more harmful consequences than beneficial ones, and should only be done when necessary and FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE TREE, and not for the benefit of someone, particularly for someone who does not own the tree. BCC owns the tree, which means that we, everyone in Bristol, own the tree.
The harmful effects of pruning are:
Increased pathogen and pest vulnerability, and increased likelihood of pathogen colonisation because of the open wounds - the cuts. (this in a time when Ash die back is in Bristol!).
Increased hydraulic stress.
Increased competition within the tree for carbon, which is needed anyway by the tree for growth, and, following pruning, will be needed for the healing of the cuts as well as for normal growth.
Reduced production of oxygen and reduced absorption of carbon dioxide because the crown reduction has reduced the number of leaves available for photosynthesis.
Reduced ecological diversity and reduced volume of habitat.
Reduced nutrients produced by the tree normally available for resorption and recycling, e.g. leaf debris.
All this in a time of a declared climate emergency, when we should be struggling our utmost to improve the environment, and certainly not harm it further.
The Applicant is a Secondary School - and no doubt Ecology and Environment are subjects in the curriculum.
A crown reduction of this magnitude - approximately 50% - could kill this tree on its own, let alone a tree that has had two recent insults to its roots. Cuts done inexpertly would kill the tree for sure.
In fact, the only time when pruning is beneficial to a tree is to remove structural defects within/of the tree. This does not mean that when a tree is encroaching upon an outside structure it should be pruned. Unfortunately, most pressure for the pruning of trees is to make trees fit in with the human environment, and this should not be done when it is harmful for the tree (which, as outlined above, is in many ways) in order to suit Man's whim.
This tree has already sustained damage to its roots twice. Some remedial work was done to the roots on 15th October 2019 to try to reduce the damage following the digging of a trench through its Root Protection Area with a mechanical digger. The soil was aerated and some mycorrhizal fungi spores applied next to the roots. But then the soil that had been treated in such manner was promptly dug up again, and further compacted, by a second episode of trenching with no Application, but it has been suggested that departments within BCC knew it was going to be carried out even with no Application, and did not request such an Application.
So, having already been attacked from below twice, now the proposal is to attack it from above by inflicting several wounds and reducing its leaf numbers, impacting upon its biological systems adversely and encouraging infections. Leading to a certain death?
The Applicant states that there are fears that the tree might break or fall, or could be diseased, but it is not damaging property.
The Application is to remove all the lower lateral limbs originating below 8 metres.
Two of these limbs extend over a footpath to the back gardens of two neighbouring properties and thus away from the Applicant's leased area. Have these residents complained - I believe not? Is there a real expectation that these limbs will fail and fall? Maybe every tree in the country should have all its branches removed just in case they fall?
One of the branches rubs against the tower of a derelict pavilion. Is there evidence that this limb is failing and an expectation that it will fall?
Or is this Application in order to suit the Applicant because the School wants to develop the site by rebuilding the derelict pavilion? IF the derelict pavilion were rebuilt then there would be no need to put in place a structure which interfered with the tree!
Firstly there has been a suggestion that the funding to rebuild the pavilion may not be forthcoming, so it is incumbent upon the Planning Authority to make sure that the plans are firm and agreed with the funding Authority, and are not just an aspiration of the Applicant, as it would be a great shame to sacrifice an important publicly owned tree for a reason that then disappeared.
Secondly, it is possible with some imagination, and a conscience, to design a building that is close to a tree so that it "includes" the tree - take a look at the Visitor Centre at Clifton Suspension Bridge to see such an example in North Somerset.
So why damage an important tree to such an extent that it is likely to be doomed, to suit a building that might not happen, when the tree (one branch!) need not interfere with the building, were it to be built, anyway?
The TPO status:
One has to ask "What will happen to the form of this tree if it is "re-shaped" in this way"? It looks to me that it would be transformed into the shape of a ridiculous lollipop. Importantly it would no longer look in any way like a mature Ash tree.
The Tree Evaluation Method for Preservation Orders (TEMPO) is a scoring system for deciding whether a tree deserves/merits a TPO. Part of the scoring is an assessment as to whether the trees does or does not have remaining longevity, and has a good form. If this Ash tree undergoes this crown reduction it will no longer have the form of an Ash, and will have been further damaged (the two episodes of trenching amongst its roots being earlier episodes) likely to reduce its life span - i.e. its longevity. A crown reduction/lift of this magnitude is likely of itself to reduce its longevity.
Indeed a recent planning application (20/02457) to fell an Ash tree in a Conservation Area (Clifton, Bristol) was granted because the tree could not be "saved" in the only way possible under those circumstances, by being made the subject of a TPO, one of the reasons being because, and I quote "The tree has been heavily crown lifted in the past which detracts from the trees natural habit."
So, because of previous heavy crown lifting the form of that tree in Clifton had been spoiled, and it did not merit the granting of a TPO, and it is to be felled. There was early Ash die-back, but as said earlier, of itself that is not a reason to fell a tree. There has not been a suggestion that this Ash, the subject of the Application at Stoke Lodge, has Ash die-back.
The Ash tree which is the subject of this Application already has a TPO. If this work is carried out, and then there are further/future applications to do things to it (and who knows by whom and when?) then it has to merit its TPO status all over again - and may lose it because of its form following this crown lifting, were this to go ahead. If it loses its TPO status then, and by not being in a Conservation Area, there would be no need to make an application to do anything to it - it would lose all its current protection, and who can tell what might then happen to it? We could hazard a guess.
Please deny this Application. It is quite unnecessary to risk the future health of this already compromised tree. There is a strong possibility the Pavilion will not be rebuilt.
I suspect the reason, or at least another reason, for this Application is for CCTV observation of the whole site, as there was an earlier Application for similar works to this tree for just this purpose - 19/04039.
That Application is strangely no longer visible on the Planning Portal so I give the wording of it here from documents I saved:
"Ash (T8) Remove the lowest 6 branches on the south side of the tree and crown lift by removing secondary laterals to give a minimum clearance of 1.5m branches above to clear both the side and the top of tower to allow for the installation of CCTV cameras. TPO 1192".
That Application had nothing to do with the tree itself, and I strongly suspect that this Application hasn't either. What a sacrifice!