Application Details

Reference 21/00895/VC
Address 25 Shaplands Bristol BS9 1AY  
Street View
Proposal T1 and T2 Silver Birch - Crown reduce 1.5m. T3 Silver Birch - Fell.
Validated 17-02-21
Type Works to Trees in Conservation Areas
Status Decided
Neighbour Consultation Expiry 09-03-21
Determination Deadline 31-03-21
Decision Preservation Order NOT REQUIRED
Decision Issued 13-04-21
BCC Planning Portal BCC Planning Portal
Public Comments Supporters: 0 Objectors: 2    Total: 2
No. of Page Views 0
Comment analysis   Date of Submission
Nearby Trees Within 200m

BTF response: OBJECT

This Application is almost a re-run of the Application withdrawn but days ago - 21/00109/VC, so I repeat what I said then. "I object on principle to the removal of yet more trees from this development. Hardly a month passes without applications for trees to be removed from this enclave - in a Conservation Area. Trees are of benefit. People will discover that too late."
There is not an Application form published with this current Application - maybe it has all been done by correspondence with BCC that is not loaded on to the Planning Portal, or is it an omission?
The Application form, together with the other Documents - has been removed from Application 21/00109/VC.

We cannot thus see a reason for the felling and the heavy pruning - not as if reasons have to be given for work to trees in a Conservation Area, unlike for trees with a TPO. If my memory serves me correctly the reason given last time was that the trees' roots are leading to some drive pavior "heave".
If this latest Application is granted it could lead to the same result as the last Application's aims, which was for the felling of all three trees. Maybe that is the aim of the Applicant - to remove them - we don't know. It could just be that the end result - the loss of the trees - will be delayed by a couple of years, as it might be one down and the other two left behind to die. It will have to be left to the professional expertise of the Tree Officer to judge if the trees can withstand this degree of a "trim", and have a reasonable chance of survival; and also advise as to when in the course of the year that should be done, if permission is granted.
A 1.5 metre crown reduction - if it should lead to a more than 30% reduction in the size of the crown overall - would certainly be very harmful and could lead to the loss of the trees. Trees live through their leaves and the size of their crowns is not decorative - the volume of leaves reflects their needs.
I have recently read that now is not the time to prune Silver Birch trees. They bleed heavily as a reaction to pruning if this is done during the Spring and early Summer whilst they are actively growing. IF it has to be done, it is advisable to leave any pruning works to late summer / early autumn, to reduce the risk of disease, which is heightened when they are bleeding sap.
It is challenging being a tree in an urban setting. They seem to "get in the way" and all those fallen leaves are a nuisance - requiring clearing up. I sympathise. I have a huge Council-owned Silver Birch tree in front of my house. Leaves and seeds get everywhere, including in the house and car. Yet without trees in towns and cities the air quality plummets and we become unhappy. And there is no shade, and there are no wind breaks. The lack of shade leads to a rise in temperature creating a warmer urban micro-climate. Their visual amenity is beyond understanding until they are not there, and of course it is too late by then. We have a moral and a civic duty to retain trees. Much of the scientific research work that has been done about the value of trees as "moppers up of pollution" has been done with Silver Birch trees as the subject tree.
I quote from an article on the Internet: "Yet, the right type of tree planted in the right place can undoubtedly be an excellent air purifier and help filter out both carbon dioxide and harmful particulate matter (PM). .............. The silver birch is one such variety. The leaves are covered in tiny hairs and ridges, which help trap the pollution particles. When it rains, the particles that have come to rest on the leaves are washed off so the cleaning/filtration process can begin again.
Silver birch foliage is also rather sparse, which means the air can easily circulate up through its branches and pollution can escape.................... In fact, the silver birch is capable of removing 40 tonnes of C02 from air in 20 years, according to one study.
Furthermore, BBC research showed that an avenue of silver birch trees planted along a busy urban road was responsible for reducing PMs by up to 60% in the homes of the residents living alongside them."
The roots of the Silver Birch are not as vigorous as say the roots of an Oak or a Willow. If tree roots are damaging the foundations of a house and causing subsidence then that is a different situation - although remediation for that is also a possibility. But I'll take a guess and suggest that lifting the paving slabs of a driveway and dealing with any heave, and with any roots found to be causing that heave, is a possible alternative solution?
I don't envy the job of Tree Officer in a city. They are damned if they permit fellings and challenged if they don't. It is up to us really not to fell trees, or damage them to a degree resulting in their death, unless it is really necessary for the health of the tree or for public safety.

Public Comments

on 2021-03-09   OBJECT

I object to this application for works on these three silver birch trees growing along thedriveway to house numbers 23, 24 and 25. The previous application to fell all the trees havingbeen withdrawn, the present proposal is to fell T3 and to crown reduce T1 and T2 by 1.5m or 5feet.

No reasons at all appear to have been offered for the proposed work on these trees in aconservation area. The lifting of a small number of paviours (cited in the withdrawn application) isrelatively minor and localised and, as far as I can see , has not progressed since the willow thatcaused the worst of the displacement was felled last year. I don't think a case has been made forgetting rid of T3, which has already had its crown substantially and recently reduced.

The new application proposes the retention of T1 and T2. But removal of such a substantialpercentage of their crowns, especially so soon after the previous reduction, is most likely to harmthe trees, which will then be on a slippery slope that ends in felling. This may well be the intention.It is precisely what has happened to the other three driveway birches that ended up being felled in2018 after similar crown reductions. Losing the last three would have a highly detrimental effect onthe visual and environmental amenity around the driveway, which is clearly visible to passers by inShaplands and to the surrounding houses. The screening and greenery all three birches provide ispart of the remaining characteristic leafiness that is why Shaplands is included in the conservationarea. They should be preserved at least for now, since they present no immediate, proven danger.Again, no case has been made that justifies removing them, but there is a strong case for keepingthem as long as possible and preventing any work on them that might undermine their viability anddeprive residents of the health and psychological protections tree cover confers.

In any case, birches should not be pruned early in the year. Leaving any necessary work till late

summer or autumn avoids both the heavy bleeding of sap birches are prone to when pruned inspring, and also the egg laying season of insects that infest pruning wounds and cause damageand disease.

I feel that in the context of our rapidly changing climate, environmental and ecological concerns,conserving trees should be a priority unless their loss is absolutely unavoidable. Any work shouldbe not threaten their viability unless it is strictly necessary. I do not think that is the case for any ofthese trees. They are highly visible and are an asset for residents, the wider environment and forwildlife.

Below is a summary of my comments on the withdrawn application, since they remain relevant tothe present one:

Shaplands is increasingly affected by noise, traffic and heavy parking, and trees mitigate theimpact. Tree cover mitigates air pollution and local warming. The microscopic hairs on the leavesof the silver birch are particularly good at trapping harmful particulates (emitted by, e.g., vehiclesand heating systems) that are significantly implicated in lung and cardiac disease.

Bristol has committed itself to doubling its tree cover by 2050, but the rate at which it is destroyingits mature trees, instead of protecting them, makes this increasingly unlikely to happen. We haveto think much harder about each tree, whether we really need to sacrifice it, and whether we canafford to.

Birch trees provide food, perches and cover for our many birds. They host many species of insectand moth larvae. The birds eat the larvae, insects, catkins and seeds. Each of these treescontributes to species diversity, supporting numerous invertebrates, birds and small mammals.

The reasons given for summarily felling or reducing these three trees are that theyare poorly located, are causing ongoing damage to the driveway surface, and 'gardenimprovements'.They are poorly located, but the property to which they are nearest is my house. I haven't seenany damage on my side of the wall so far. Despite their imperfect siting, they do not appear topresent any immediate danger, so is the work necessary at this point?

The worst of the lifting of the paviours was mostly caused by the willow tree that has been felled. Itdoes not seem to have progressed since then, as mentioned above.

The third justification for felling and reduction is 'garden improvements', but the only gardenaffected by these trees is mine, from where we can see them and they provide dappled shade andbeautiful screening. The driveway is a communal one leading to three houses. These trees arevisible to everyone walking past the entrance to the driveway and naturally looking along it. Thebirches mask, soften and distract from the walls and roofs, contributing to visual amenity for

residents and visitors.

The removal of a considerable amount of tree cover has been permitted in this particular part ofShaplands already in recent years, much of it visible beyond the immediate vicinity, affecting thewider conservation area. While accepting that some maintenance tree work is necessary, I hope itwill increasingly be carefully assessed in the context of its general environmental impact, not justlocal convenience. I do not think the slight lifting of a very few paviours in a communal driveway isa sufficient reason for the proposed detrimental works on these three attractive, healthy trees.

on 2021-02-25   OBJECT

This Application is almost a re-run of the Application withdrawn but days ago -21/00109/VC, so I repeat what I said then. "I object on principle to the removal of yet more treesfrom this development. Hardly a month passes without applications for trees to be removed fromthis enclave - in a Conservation Area. Trees are of benefit. People will discover that too late."There is not an Application form published with this current Application - maybe it has all beendone by correspondence with BCC that is not loaded on to the Planning Portal, or is it anomission?The Application form, together with the other Documents - has been removed from Application21/00109/VC.

We cannot thus see a reason for the felling and the heavy pruning - not as if reasons have to begiven for work to trees in a Conservation Area, unlike for trees with a TPO. If my memory servesme correctly the reason given last time was that the trees' roots are leading to some drive pavior"heave".If this latest Application is granted it could lead to the same result as the last Application's aims,which was for the felling of all three trees. Maybe that is the aim of the Applicant - to remove them- we don't know. It could just be that the end result - the loss of the trees - will be delayed by acouple of years, as it might be one down and the other two left behind to die. It will have to be leftto the professional expertise of the Tree Officer to judge if the trees can withstand this degree of a"trim", and have a reasonable chance of survival; and also advise as to when in the course of theyear that should be done, if permission is granted.A 1.5 metre crown reduction - if it should lead to a more than 30% reduction in the size of thecrown overall - would certainly be very harmful and could lead to the loss of the trees. Trees livethrough their leaves and the size of their crowns is not decorative - the volume of leaves reflectstheir needs.

I have recently read that now is not the time to prune Silver Birch trees. They bleed heavily as areaction to pruning if this is done during the Spring and early Summer whilst they are activelygrowing. IF it has to be done, it is advisable to leave any pruning works to late summer / earlyautumn, to reduce the risk of disease, which is heightened when they are bleeding sap.It is challenging being a tree in an urban setting. They seem to "get in the way" and all those fallenleaves are a nuisance - requiring clearing up. I sympathise. I have a huge Council-owned SilverBirch tree in front of my house. Leaves and seeds get everywhere, including in the house and car.Yet without trees in towns and cities the air quality plummets and we become unhappy. And thereis no shade, and there are no wind breaks. The lack of shade leads to a rise in temperaturecreating a warmer urban micro-climate. Their visual amenity is beyond understanding until theyare not there, and of course it is too late by then. We have a moral and a civic duty to retain trees.Much of the scientific research work that has been done about the value of trees as "moppers upof pollution" has been done with Silver Birch trees as the subject tree.I quote from an article on the Internet: "Yet, the right type of tree planted in the right place canundoubtedly be an excellent air purifier and help filter out both carbon dioxide and harmfulparticulate matter (PM). .............. The silver birch is one such variety. The leaves are covered intiny hairs and ridges, which help trap the pollution particles. When it rains, the particles that havecome to rest on the leaves are washed off so the cleaning/filtration process can begin again.Silver birch foliage is also rather sparse, which means the air can easily circulate up through itsbranches and pollution can escape.................... In fact, the silver birch is capable of removing 40tonnes of C02 from air in 20 years, according to one study.Furthermore, BBC research showed that an avenue of silver birch trees planted along a busyurban road was responsible for reducing PMs by up to 60% in the homes of the residents livingalongside them."The roots of the Silver Birch are not as vigorous as say the roots of an Oak or a Willow. If treeroots are damaging the foundations of a house and causing subsidence then that is a differentsituation - although remediation for that is also a possibility. But I'll take a guess and suggest thatlifting the paving slabs of a driveway and dealing with any heave, and with any roots found to becausing that heave, is a possible alternative solution?I don't envy the job of Tree Officer in a city. They are damned if they permit fellings and challengedif they don't. It is up to us really not to fell trees, or damage them to a degree resulting in theirdeath, unless it is really necessary for the health of the tree or for public safety.