Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Change in Council policy over planting of trees in pavements

A small decision was this afternoon made by Highways, which will transform Birmingham streets for generations to come.

The decision is to allow trees to be planted on top of underground services, EXCEPT above gas and water mains. This will free up thousand of miles of pavements in Birmingham to have trees planted in them.

Until this afternoon, Birmingham City Council have always insisted that trees must be planted in a tree pit that was 1metre by 1metre and 1metre deep. That tree pit had to be completely free of underground cables – namely TV cable, electrical, water, gas.

To add to this, the Council does not have a budget for digging holes in pavements. Digging a hole costs about £170.

This policy by the council has result in few trees planted in pavements over the last 20 years.

In Moseley, both Moseley in Bloom and myself have been planting trees in pavements since 2005. The tree planting has been funded from local Community Chest money and has involved a ‘hands-on’ approach. For example, I oversaw the planting of trees for two days in Cambridge Road and St.Albans Road. During that two day period I scanned a number of mature trees in Moseley and found them to all have underground cables going through their roots.

Until 2005, the Council wouldn’t even allow the planting of trees in pavements per se, since the roots would alledgedly affect the underground TV cables.

In mid-April, the Moseley in Bloom team invited a gentleman from Westminster Council who over a 30 year period had planted 5000 trees in London’s Square Mile – a most densely pack area of Britian with underground cables.

As a result of that meeting, both Moseley in Bloom and myself have forced the Council to loosen their policy on underground cables. Both Moseley in Bloom and myself will be hiring an underground cable scanner this summer to plan out where to plant trees in the coming years.


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