Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colony

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Jack Harrison
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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:39 pm

You might be able to find out the councillors' names if you don't already know. Name and shame them and organise a campaign to ensure that none get re-elected.

And maybe this should be a warning to all of us. Find out just how much potential councllors/MPs really know about conservation and don't be content with the usual platitudes

I am puzzled why the Sheffield council is being so pig-headed.

Keep up the good work.

Jack

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:47 pm

Thanks Jack
Yes, we have all the names. There are a number of independent candidates standing at the next election in May. Trouble is Sheffield has been dominated by Labour for the last 50 years, and no matter what they do, people vote for them and nobody else. So they'll all be safe. Hence them acting like they are untouchable. Basically because they are!

The reason the Council are being so intransigent (apart from being safe electorally) is because they signed a 25 year PFI contract with a company called Amey in 2012 which covers all street maintaince. The contract incentivises (accidentally) Amey to fell the trees. But changing the contract would be hugely costly, so the council are in a real pickle.

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Padfield » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:54 pm

I haven't commented before Paul, because I'm too remote to have any useful insights; but I would like to congratulate you for your outstanding commitment to your elm trees in general, and that one in particular. For a fairly depressing thread, this one is also strangely uplifting, to know there are people who care and are prepared to act.

Guy
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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Feb 06, 2016 6:17 pm

contract incentivises (accidentally) Amey to fell the trees
Accidental or not, surely someone has to take the can for letting that clause [in the contract] to slip through?

Jack

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:25 pm

Sadly not Jack. PFI contracts are riven with danger. Just look up the Wikipedia page on PFI. You need to write every eventuality into the contract and cost everything and every single performance measure. Contracts can be hundreds or even thousands of pages long.

As a civil servant myself I'd never recommend PFI to my Minister (or in this case Councillor). But if the Minister insisted PFI was the way to go, as is their democratically elected right, I behold any civil servant who can help draft a PFI contract which doesn't include some hole, flaw or perverse incentive. In my view it is impossible!

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:28 pm

Padfield wrote:I haven't commented before Paul, because I'm too remote to have any useful insights; but I would like to congratulate you for your outstanding commitment to your elm trees in general, and that one in particular. For a fairly depressing thread, this one is also strangely uplifting, to know there are people who care and are prepared to act.

Guy


Thanks Guy. I'm just a very small cog, who has used the power of social media, perhaps 75 hours in total effort, and my expertise in trees and butterflies to promote one tree. There are hundreds of other Sheffielders who are fighting the wider battle, some of whom are on this issue full time. They are the ones who really deserve the big praise. Fingers crossed all our efforts will pay off in the end

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:31 pm

PS - Actually, one quick question for any experts on here reading this thread. Does anyone have any evidence about the success rates of translocation of White Letter Hairstreak? I'd like to use the evidence (if there is any) against the council. I've seen evidence about other butterflies to show that translocation is mired in various difficulties about finding IDENTICAL habitat.

All advice gratefully received.

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby dave brown » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:52 pm

Surely there is a cost implication in felling old trees and planting new ones. In some cases it is something that is over and above the normal PFI maintenance contract and generates extra income for the Contractor. Obviously Amey are keen to exploit any clause to maximise their return on the contract. This over and above cost will be borne by the Tax or Ratepayer. Could there be a case for publicity surrounding any additional costs to put pressure on the Local Councillors to reign back on some of the felling. Most contracts have a clause that the Client must agree to any additional expenditure before the Contractor undertakes the work. Each additional pound spent felling a tree is a pound not available for other Social Services.
Last edited by dave brown on Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Matsukaze » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:47 pm

Hi Paul,

I'd be amazed if anyone has ever tried to translocate White-letter Hairstreak, and the notion is so delightfully impractical that it would fit very well with your council's approach to policy. The eggs do a very good impression of being invisible - even when you know where they are they are sometimes impossible to relocate - and the larvae and pupae not much easier to find. I rescued a larva from fallen elm seeds last year and reared it through, so it is possible but you would need a stock of elm and the means of rearing them so that they emerge at the right time (I managed the first but not the second). Finding all the larvae is another matter and it would be entertaining to watch the council employees swarming over the elm beating the branches to dislodge the caterpillars (most of which would soon start to hold on tightly and not be dislodged); even more amusing would be watching them trying to net the adults of this most arboreal of butterflies, which must be perfectly capable of dispersing across the landscape to find suitable habitat in any case - they have little trouble in finding isolated patches of elm once it becomes suitable.

I must admit to being sceptical of translocation in general and translocation of butterflies in particular, as if the recipient site is nearby and is any good for the species it will most likely long since have been colonised by the butterfly anyway. If the butterflies were shipped off to an area with suitable habitat where the butterfly does not currently exist, there might be some point to it, but introducing butterflies has its own bureaucracy and I understand that a local source for introduced stock is preferred. WLH is in any case pretty thoroughly distributed south of the border, though I daresay Jack would not mind a few locally!

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jack Harrison » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:29 pm

though I daresay Jack would not mind a few locally!
I do in fact have an elm in my garden here in north Scotland but I cannot go along with introduction of any species where it has never previously occurred - and I doubt WLH has ever been found this far north.

Jack

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby David M » Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:06 pm

Paul, I salute you and your supporters for your tenacity with this. Sadly, the whole saga reeks of local government at its worst. There are times when you wonder just how 'democratic' our nation actually is. If 7,000 individual signatures is deemed insufficient to delay decisions on a municipal issue then clearly the Council have deemed the matter a fait accompli.

As you rightly point out, the only language of protest they fear is that expressed at the ballot box, but if they feel their majority will remain unthreatened then, like most autocracies, they will carry on regardless. :(

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Padfield » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:11 pm

Jack Harrison wrote:
though I daresay Jack would not mind a few locally!
I do in fact have an elm in my garden here in north Scotland but I cannot go along with introduction of any species where it has never previously occurred - and I doubt WLH has ever been found this far north.

Jack


I've seen it near Oslo ...

Guy
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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Fri Feb 12, 2016 4:28 pm

Thanks to everyone for their continued positivity and advice.

It's been an interesting week this week. The Council have gone generally quiet now the legal injunction is in place and their previous spin, bluster and lies are being kept to the minimum.

The good news is that the press have got hold of the story big style now and the protest has featured on most media outlets including two five minute segments on BBC Breakfast news on Thursday. The media attention has helped the crowd funding legal total to reach above £10,000.

The advice above in this thread, about translocation was exactly as I feared, a last resort solution I suspect.

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby NickMorgan » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:08 pm

Glad to see that the Sheffield tree debacle has made it to the One Show. Hopefully more publicity may help the campaign.

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby bugboy » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:09 pm

Think I just caught the tail end of this subject on The One Show. National coverage now, excellant stuff!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:53 pm

Hi everyone
Yes, the One Show certainly raises the national profile. It wasn't a particularly good article, but as the old adage goes, no publicity is bad publicity, and quite a few more people have joined the campaign as a result.

There is a lot going on in the background. The Council have launched an appeal against the injuction. It's unlikely to be accepted, but still a worry. Meanwhile, the main legal case is being prepared, which will be very interesting. The campaign has now raised over £11,000 in case of legal costs.

On the ground, quite a lot of activity remains ongoing in relation to individual trees. It's going to be a very busy few months!
Paul

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat May 21, 2016 7:08 am

Hi everyone
An update on the Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak situation in Sheffield.

Sadly the original legal case was lost. In his statement, the judge seemed to set commercial interests above the law, and didn't answer the original questions posed by the case brought to court. So an appeal has been lodged, and we await the date the appeal will be heard.

Disappointingly, the Council have ignored the fact that the appeal has been lodged (and theoretically could be upheld) and so have re-started felling. Many local residents are now involved in Non Violent Direct Action in the hope that the delays caused to the felling contractors, as they have to make slow progress, tree by tree, will cause the Council to think again.

They have been emboldened by the fact the local elections, despite lots of independent candidates and disgust at the tree felling, returned another huge Labour majority in Sheffield.

I'm a small cog in the overall protest movement, focused on a single tree containing the White Letter Hairstreak colony. Despite photos of eggs taken on the tree, and various photos taken of the adult butterfly in nearby gardens, the council are denying the colony exists. Similarly, they are using non-expert "expert" advice to say that the 150 year old elm tree is not unusual and not internationally significant. Very disappointing.

I'm therefore in the process of organising a large media event about the tree and colony, which fingers crossed may get national press attention. I aim to embarrass the council to the max as they are failing to engage with me individually. Look out for further updates from me over the next few weeks
Paul

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Pete Eeles » Sat May 21, 2016 8:28 am

Thanks for the update, Paul, and good luck with any actions you take!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby David M » Sat May 21, 2016 11:37 am

Yes, good luck, Paul, and well done on your efforts thus far.

Quite how they can deny the existence of the colony when there is photographic evidence to prove it just shows how determined they are to get their way irrespective of the concerns of the electorate.

Shameful!

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Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby NickMorgan » Thu May 26, 2016 9:34 pm

Paul,
Do you have the address of Sheffield City Council and the name of the street that the elm tree is on? I am sure the Chief Executive would love to get a letter from me!!


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