Bristol Street Trees

A Proposal for a Way Forward.

Bristol City Council should develop a street tree strategy for 2008-2013 following a proper period of public consultation.

Bristol City Council should publish information on their web site.  Start a process of engaging and consulting with the public (as required under EC Law and in common with the activities of many other parts of Bristol City Council) by providing information on Bristol’s street trees on the council web site.  Such information should include the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) (NEWS - THEY’VE FINALLY DONE THIS!) and should also seek to educate the public regarding the value of street trees.  The web site should contain information on how to get a street tree planted in a new location, or a felled tree replaced in an existing location.  In addition there should be ongoing information regarding the street trees and species that are being planted and those that are being felled.

Bristol City Council should adopt a proper process of consultation before street trees are removed (also required under EC law).  This could be similar to the planning (or TPO) process and would include a notice inviting comment on the tree in question and full information regarding the origin of the request for the tree to be removed.  This would bring into the open the desires of insurance companies and residents who wish to see trees removed. It would also bring people who wish to see trees retained into the debate, as stakeholders in their local environment.

Bristol City Council should, where necessary, impose TPOs on council or highway trees, providing them with legal protection from opportunist compensation claims. Fight any claims if or as they arise.

Any Bristol City Council property with landmark trees must only be sold with a covenant protecting them. The Bristol City Council property and finance department must develop a strategy for saving important trees.

Bristol City Council should develop a mechanism for ensuring that there is proper communication and consultation with the public. This would be easier once information is included on the web site.  Set up a regular cycle of communication and meetings with the occupants of each area of Bristol. Through this process, harness the great interest and take advantage of the professional expertise of some members of the public. This kind of process is conducted in many other arenas.
Bristol City Council should instigate an urban design framework within the relevant city council departments so that for each new council development (such as pavement build-outs and showcase bus routes) there is consideration of new planting opportunities.  Bristol City Council must acknowledge that whilst an aboriculturalist is able to determine the health and status of an individual tree an urban design professional is required to address the wider, long term picture for the city.
Bristol City Council must, once again, start planting street trees that will become large in order to halt the insidious change to our city which still benefits from large trees. Once a mechanism has been found for planting street trees, we do not see funding as a problem. The public can help with fund-raising. Locations for new avenues need to be identified and missing trees in existing avenues replaced.