Suspension of “non-emergency” tree removals

Published Monday, 29th July 2019

tree in a park

A senior councillor has temporarily suspended the non-emergency removal of all street trees in Southend and will bring in a new tree policy for the town by autumn.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, has ordered the immediate suspension in response to the large volume of correspondence she has received – both online and via social media - since coming into office last month from residents concerned about street trees being removed in the borough.

The council’s parks team will now work with Cllr Mulroney to draft a new trees policy, which will look at the ongoing management of the town’s much loved trees and best ways to continue to maintain them.

Cllr Mulroney said: “Street trees pose far more challenges than garden or park trees and there are genuine reasons why trees sometimes have to be removed and cannot always be replaced in the same place, such as the presence of underground cables and pipes which were never a consideration when the original trees were planted.

“The council has followed a policy of two-for-one replacement where practical when trees are removed. However, this is not always possible and over the past few years the numbers of street trees planted has been below this target and I believe greater resources are needed to increase planting. 

“Removing trees is always the last resort and officers work on the principle of the 5Ds: namely they would only remove a tree that is dead, dying, diseased, decayed or dangerous. Structural damage to buildings or paths, or conditions of a planning permission may also require a tree to be removed.

“I intend to do everything possible to put the ‘tree’ back into ‘street’ and ensure the borough’s green canopy is maintained and improved.

“It will take a while to catch up and we will not be able to replace large trees like-for-like but every tree started as a sapling and they will grow!”

The removal of trees, apart from cases of emergency (where there is immediate risk to residents or property), insurance obligations and/or scheduled highway works, is suspended with immediate effect. Work on revising the council’s trees policy will now start with the aim of bringing forward the new policy by the autumn.

Over the coming weeks, the council will liaise with groups who have expressed concern to explain the processes of inspecting our street trees and the remedies we use to assist in their retention.