Over the May 2019 half term eight poplar trees by the fence on Barrack Road were removed.
Why did we remove the trees?
The decision to remove the trees was taken on the grounds of Health and Safety. In the last year some large branches have split out from the trees; some have fallen on the field and one large branch fell into the car park of the flats adjacent to the school. In windy weather we have had to ensure that children do not play near the trees. The Dorset County Council arboricultural manager visited the site and advised that poplar trees were not appropriate for the location as they are structurally weak and cannot resist decay very well. We were told that they are not suitable for planting next to roads or areas such as schools and other similar buildings.
The tree surgeon who carried out the work found extensive evidence of the decline of these ageing trees with structural problems and defects. Some of the trees were rotten at ground level. Obviously it is not possible to predict when trees or branches might fall, but, given the location on playing fields where our children play every day and also next to a busy pedestrian route and a dual carriageway, they presented a significant risk to the children and also to the public. The risk of a branch causing a road traffic accident or injury to a pedestrian or a pupil was our main consideration. (This is why poplars tend not to be planted in urban environments).
In addition, the trees’ heavy root system has caused extensive damage to the school’s path around the field and this was also identified as a safety risk.
The tree surgeon’s view was that the only other option was very heavy pollarding but this would have left the trees looking unsightly and the risk of keeping them for a few more years was still too high, even in a pollarded state.
What will we do to improve this boundary?
Moving forward, we plan to plant a new hedgerow of evergreen shrubs interspersed with some native tree species. The most popular suggestion has been to include at least one field maple. Hopefully this would enhance biodiversity for the future and also provide some screening for our field. The tall poplars did not provide screening and this meant that there was a challenge to the privacy and security of the site. The best time for planting will be in the autumn. We look forward to this chance to improve our school surroundings.