I am lucky to be part of the alumni of the University of Bath’s School of Management programme ‘Responsibility and Business Practice’. We have a simple, effective and early incarnation of social media that serves us well…
We share an email list for all alumni and it creates a live and dynamic forum between us that reaches a Global and very powerful business and personal community that together tackles challenges both great and small. This time, the communication was about just one tree and it read:
A beautiful and ancient tree in my local town is going to be cut down -
the council claim it is a threat although it shows no signs of disease
or instability – in reality we believe it is for convenience and
parking. If you are on Facebook (anywhere in the world) please join the
group ‘Save the Crewkerne Luccombe Oak’ so that we can show that people
everywhere care about ancient trees more than extra parking spaces. If
you live near enough go and see the tree in Crewkerne and add a message
of your own.
One of the response, less than 2 hours later, is below…
Here are some ideas:
1) Try to get a TPO on it – Here is a link about how to get a Tree Protection Order granted (although if you are up against the council, not likely):http://www.naturenet.net/trees/tpo.htm
2) Use the planning system against them – Find out the name of the case officer in the planning office, make a formal request for information from the planning department to see the planning consent documentation for the tree removal – stipulate that you want this information IN ADVANCE of the tree removal and that you are taking legal advice on the status of the removal as this is an ancient Oak and their activity could be illegal (this is of course to put the wind up them). cc. the leader or mayor to all correspondence as well as the environment dept, communications dept and all local councillors – public servants and politicians get spooked when they see other people have been copied in, especially their bosses. Liberally use words and phrases like ILLEGAL, AGAINST GOVERNMENT POLICY, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESMENT, PLANNING AND COMPULSORY PURCHASE ACT 2005, etc.
3) Ask what status the land around the tree has on the Local Development Framework (formerly Unitary Development Plan), if it is earmarked as green space, then there will be little cause for removal, and the council are possibly acting illegally, if it has been earmarked as development land, I would investigate this further to see if there is a developer interested
4) The environmental case for saving this tree includes this key point a mature oak helps mitigate against flood risk as it will draw up over 50 gallons of water a day – in an age of flooding and climate change, the council are taking an environmentally irresponsible decision which could harm the long term future of the area
5) Write to all local councillors to request their official view, request the attendance list at planning committee that decreed this
6) Write to the leader of the council and if you have an elected mayor
7) Obviously write to the local papers
8) Look for a famous champion – any local celebs? Try Felix Dennis – he loves trees. Make a film with them – post it on Youtube
9) In all your correspondence let councillors, planners, environment officers know that they could be cutting down over £500,000 worth of council owned amenity – see proof that Surrey valued its ancient oaks at that price http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3347278/Ancient-oak-in-Surrey-tree-valued-at-500000.html
10) Get my mum involved – she scares the beJaysus out of all who try and fell trees and will gladly tie herself to it – I have copied her in, expect a call!
A great deal of information and support duly disseminated in the press of a button, one mother ready to tie herself to the Oak and a Facebook group that widens the reach beyond Bath Alumni and into the wider tree-caring community of the Uk and beyond. The power of social media garnered to save the mighty oak and battle a system at odds with its own interests perhaps? I will update you with the results…