The Save Sheffield Trees Booklet (downloadable pdf published March 2017) explains the story of the campaign so far.
This report from the arborist Ian Dalton (also published March 2017) explains what is happening from an arborist point of view.
Sheffield has approximately 36,000 roadside trees, and has 4 mature trees for every person in the city. This is partly why Sheffield has the reputation as one of the greenest cities in England. As part of the huge programme to improve the city’s roads and pavements many of our trees are being cut down. A freedom of information request revealed that between August 2012 and December 2016 4246 were felled with a further 1632 to go before end Aug 2017.
Most of the PFI contract has been redacted to keep it away from public scrutiny. It lasts for 25 years and involves upgrading the condition of our city’s roads, pavements, street lights, bridges and other items on or around our streets. The Green Party spoke out at the time concerning the lack of consultation and accountability in the contract.
City residents are now seeing the felling of many street trees. There is an excellent interactive map here where you can see the whereabouts of threatened trees and report trees when Amey have attached a 2 week warning notice.
The number of trees the Council want to fell is constantly changing. In 2007 the Elliott Report said 1000 trees should be replaced. In January 2017 Cllr Bryan Lodge stated in a Radio Sheffield interview that 10,000 trees are to be felled. Both Cllr Leigh Bramall and Steve Robinson (Head of Highway Maintenance) are on record as saying that half the street tree population will be replaced (which makes 18.000).
Under the “6 Ds” policy, the Council and Amey say that will cut down trees that are:
Damaging the road or pavement or
Discriminatory (Causing severe obstruction to pavements)
There is no argument about genuinely dangerous, dead, dying and diseased trees. These obviously need to be felled. However Sheffield City Council has not cared properly for its street trees for many years. Green Councillors called for a Trees and Woodland Strategy at the full council meeting of 1st July, to ensure proper care is taken of its street trees.
Trees that are “guilty” of damaging the road or pavement or obstructing the pavement are far more contentious. Of course it is important for wheelchair users and others with mobility problems to be able to access the pavements. However there are engineering solutions that can overcome these problems and there are examples of wheelchair users objecting to such trees being felled.
The night raid on Rustlings Road will go down in history as one of the biggest mistakes Sheffield City Council has ever made.
Throughout 2015 and 2016 there were many peaceful protests which prevented Amey from felling trees. The police got involved and used Trade Union legislation to arrest 14 protesters including our own Councillor Alison Teal. Cases did not go to court however as charges were dropped. The protesters are now taking legal action against the police.
The Council set up the Independent Tree Panel to give a second opinion about the trees that have been selected for felling. Unfortunately their advice has been largely ignored by the Council. At the time of writing the ITP have recommended saving 67 trees but the Council have only saves 6 of these.
Lots of campaigns and petitions have developed to protect local trees. An umbrella group called Sheffield Tree Action Group STAG are coordinating their efforts. Below are some links. Please sign the petitions and get involved with your local Facebook group. If you are concerned about your street trees, take photographs and post them to Save Sheffield Trees. Talk to your neighbours and form your local campaign. To add your group to this list please email email@example.com
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Sheffield Tree Action Groups website is here. http://www.savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/
There was a big demonstration on Saturday 14th November. Here is the video.