Managing Bridgend’s “secret” £790million asset

(Pic: via tripadvisor.com)

One thing all local authorities are responsible for is tree management – mainly in terms of health and safety. If they fail in this duty they could be liable to a fine of up to £4million. BCBC’s tree management policy is to be discussed by the Cabinet this afternoon (pdf).

At BCBC, tree management isn’t the responsibility of a single department, but the responsibility of whichever department owns the land the trees are on.

Research from 2015 estimated that in terms of urban trees (pdf), Bridgend had:

  • At least 430,000 urban trees (99 trees per hectare) – above average for the UK – but a lower population of medium to large trees.
  • 60 different tree and shrub species.
  • 12% urban tree cover (equivalent to 533 hectares), with the potential for 27%.

In terms of what these were “worth” to Bridgend, a conservative estimate says Bridgend’s urban trees:

  • Intercept/absorb 124million litres of water annually – the equivalent of 360 swimming pools – saving £164,000 in sewerage charges.
  • Remove 61 tons of airborne pollutants, worth £326,000 in damage costs.
  • Remove 2,080 tons of carbon – estimated to be worth £461,000.
  • Store 53,500 tons of carbon – the equivalent of the annual emissions from 98,500 cars – worth £12.1million.
  • Have a replacement value of £142million and an asset value of £632million.

BCBC undertook a review and assessment of trees in order to decide whether trees require work to them or even removal in the interests of public safety. A list of works has been drafted and a company will be hired to undertake the necessary works from August 2018.

The priority area will be areas that are in constant use (i.e. A-roads, residential areas, schools, play areas). Trees in these areas will be inspected annually.

Next down the ladder of priority are trees that are in heavily-used areas but not for 24-hours a day (i.e. car parks, offices); these will be inspected every two years. Lower priority areas – like rural open spaces – might only have their trees inspected every 10 years.

Any urgent work will be undertaken within 24 hours, with less urgent work taking place 6-12 months after the original assessment. Work deemed “non-essential” won’t be undertaken by BCBC at all – and this may include many householder requests.

A training programme for relevant staff – funded by the Welsh Government – will take place between July 2018 and March 2019.

The estimated cost of all the works and the plan is £240,000, which will come from individual department budgets (based on land responsibility).

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