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Environment Environment

Place new consultation duties on councils wishing to cut down trees

Last updated: 11:17am 15 January 2019

In addition to the 11 million trees we are planting across our nation, we will ensure that 1 million more are planted in our towns and cities, and place new duties on councils to consult when they wish to cut down street trees.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.25

Our verdict

This is part of the government’s ambition to ensure our towns and cities prosper. The manifesto says urban areas should be “healthy, well-designed and well-tended places”. Tree planting is one of several initiatives aimed at transforming that vision into reality, with a pledge to plant a million new trees in towns and cities.

This policy is a promise to impose a requirement for councils to consult before cutting down street trees.

It is already an offence to fell trees without a licence (although there are exceptions), but there are “currently no government standards or guidelines for local authority street tree management”. This policy proposes to introduce a requirement for local authorities to consult with local residents before a tree is felled.

In June 2018, a “Tree Champion” was appointed by the Environment Secretary to “drive forward planting rates and prevent the unnecessary felling of street trees”. One of Sir William Worsley’s responsibilities as Tree Champion is “supporting the introduction of a new duty for local councils to consult before felling”.

On December 30th 2018, the government launched a consultation on protecting trees and woodlands in England.  It is due to close on February 28th 2019.  One of the areas covered in the consultation is this very policy, the duty to consult. The government puts forward three alternatives for ways in which local authorities should consult with residents and indicates its preferred option.

There’s definitely movement towards carrying out this policy, so we’re marking it as ‘in progress’. To move it to ‘done’ we will need to see the new duty put in place following the government’s response to the consultation. Follow this policy for updates.

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