There are numerous benefits to street trees going way beyond their decorative appeal, as the graphic below shows. So it puzzles me that Surrey County Council are reluctant to replace dying or dead street trees – even though their website encourages residents to report these.
When a resident contacted me to complain that the street tree outside his home was dead and needed replacing, I found a facility on the Surrey CC website to report dying or dead trees. However, when I duly reported this to Surrey Highways, the response was somewhat puzzling.
They wrote that ” the problem does not need immediate work”. This is somewhat bizarre, as if a tree does not need replacing when it is dead – when does it need replacing? When I pushed further, I got an answer that was at least more rational, but still not satisfactory. The assessment found that the dead tree posed no risk – by which I assume they mean risk to pedestrians or vehicles.
But this completely misses the point. From the monarch down, we are being encouraged by all levels of government (including Surrey CC) to plant more trees. Why plant more, if we can’t or won’t even replace those that have died?
I suspect that the real answer is that there is just not the money.
If Surrey Highways simply do not have the budget to replace trees, how else can we get this done? One way or the other, it must surely be possible. The Surrey CC website states that under certain conditions, individuals or groups can secure permission to undertake planting themselves. Street trees are important, and I will continue to argue for more trees for Haslemere. Haslemere town council has some (limited) funds available for neighbourhood improvements. This will not be enough to pay Surrey to do the work, but it could be enough to underwrite the basic expenses to secure permission for local volunteers to do the work.