Time for Cardiff council to stand up for trees against developers

Update: 8/11/19

Cllr Peter Bradbury, the cabinet member for culture and leisure has written to us to say that he has asked Cllr Caro Wild (Riverside), the cabinet member for sustainable planning and transport to review Cardiff’s council’s policy on trees and planning.  This follows the council’s public commitment to action, made in June 2019. This is good news because Cllr Wild is a committed environmentalist.  Furthermore, he represents a ward which borders the Suffolk House site and will be well aware of the severe damage done to the council’s reputation as a result of the actions of planning officials in this case and will be keen to ensure that this never happens again. 

You can write to Cllr Wild at caro.wild@cardiff.gov.uk

Campaigners demand progress report

Campaigners have written to Cardiff council asking for progress on their commitment to look again at protecting trees when plans for new developments are put forward.

Whilst Wrexham’s trees are protected in the planning system, Cardiff’s aren’t. This has led to a serious loss of tree cover.

Writing to Cllr Peter Bradbury, campaigner Peter Morgan said:

Could you please provide an update on your review of Supplementary Planning Guidance to properly protect mature trees?  In particular, when will you be able to meet with the Civic Society, the Woodland Trust and Thompson’s Park Area Environmental Group to take this matter forward? 

The role of trees, and particularly mature trees, in providing environmental services to the City has been left in the background where planning applications are concerned.  Amongst other things, trees mitigate the ruinous effect of air pollution and indeed the ‘2018 Annual Air Quality Progress Report for Cardiff Council’ states that Cardiff Council has been successful in bidding for funding from the Welsh Government under the Green Infrastructure Grant Funding Scheme through which funding is available to enable a project focusing on the benefits of trees and planting to the city, with a specific emphasis on methods of addressing air quality issues.

We are aware of the declaration of a climate emergency by the Council in March of this year and that Cardiff is signed up to the One Planet Cardiff initiative and that all these laudable aims take place against a background of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.  This shows that our Council is travelling in the right direction on environmental issues, but on the other hand, its actions in relation to officers’ recommendations to the planning committee are in direct conflict with this ethos.

in Cardiff over 2017 and 2018, 732 trees were felled but only 446 were planted

This reluctance to take tree preservation seriously at a planning level is but part of a wider problem as is shown by a recent response to a freedom of information request where, in Cardiff over 2017 and 2018, 732 trees were felled but only 446 were planted.  There is a substantial difference between these figures and your response toMs. Lloyd-Pierce’s public question, where you stated that every tree felled was replaced.  We would be grateful if you could explain this discrepancy. In any event, mature trees are not equivalent to newly planted ones.  Habitat loss, biodiversity, pollution reduction and water absorption as well as the aesthetic value are immediately reduced almost to zero by felling. Whereas the positive effects of replanting only appear in a number of years’ time, and, as the Climate Emergency motion shows, we simply cannot afford to wait that long.

A recent Welsh study from Wrexham, namely Wrexham’s Tree and Woodland Strategy (2016 – 2026) states that

Section 1.1 “Wrexham County Borough Council has a duty to protect trees on private land and to ensure trees are protected and planted on development sites through the planning system.”

Likewise Section 3.2 states that “through the planning system, the Local Planning Authority will insist that large stature trees are retained and planted on development sites and through the review of ‘Local Planning Guidance Note 17: Trees & Development’ will ensure that policies are in place to ensure compliance and to give clear guidance to developers.”  

Also, under Section 3.4 they state that “The Local Planning Authority (LPA) will proactively protect trees of special interest by the use of Tree Preservation Orders.  It will give sufficient weight to these trees in the planning process where development is proposed, so that none are lost to development. The LPA will utilise the Woodland Trusts Ancient Tree Inventory when assessing and determining planning applications and will give the same weight to trees on the inventory to those protected by Tree Preservation Order.”

This document goes on to say in Section 3.11 that “All trees within a Conservation Area with a stem diameter of 75 mm (measured at 1.5 metres from ground level) are provided with the same level of protection as a TPO.”

what can be done in Wrexham can, and ought to, be carried through in Cardiff

Our point is that what can be done in Wrexham can, and ought to, be carried through in Cardiff. We know that a single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 21.6 kg/year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings. Trees also absorb surplus water and remove pollutants from the atmosphere.

The time has come to be rigorous about protecting trees against the ravages of ‘development blight’, and stand up against the arguments made by developers and their allies that losing just one or two more trees won’t make a difference when our urban tree population is suffering death by a thousand cuts

In the ‘Cardiff Green Infrastructure SPG Trees and Development Technical Guidance Note’, Cardiff is quoted as being Britain’s ‘undisputed tree capital’. We feel that we need to live up to this plaudit, and that now is the time to build on this positive attitude and make Cardiff an environmentally friendly area in every sense of this phrase.  The time has come to be rigorous about protecting trees against the ravages of ‘development blight’, and stand up against the arguments made by developers and their allies that losing just one or two more trees won’t make a difference when our urban tree population is suffering death by a thousand cuts.

3 thoughts on “Time for Cardiff council to stand up for trees against developers

  1. Wow! Thank you Ceri. Hope it is not too late? Such a powerful letter did you ask them to reply within a 7 or 14 day timeline? So proud of you and Elin. Please keep me posted and let me know if I can help in anyway. Thank you. Joy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Joy, it’s nice to hear from you. To be fair it was Peter Morgan who wrote the letter! Unfortunately, these demands won’t save the Suffolk House trees – only CPS Homes can do that. But if the council adopted policies like Wrexham then at least other trees in other parts of Cardiff would be safe from greedy property speculators

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s