Written in October 2015, for local Sheffield blog, the SouthSheffieldBulletin.
Protestors have had a victory in the ongoing tree-felling saga around Sheffield. Three trees on Rustlings Road, near Endcliffe Park, have been saved after the Council caved in to demands for their roots to be examined. Protesters had refused to believe the council’s claim that the trees needed to come down because they were damaged and diseased.
After workers dug around the trees, they found that there was not enough reason to take the trees down and the building work the council had been planning could be done around them.
However, protesters are now asking why Amey and the council are not doing this to all the trees that they are planning to fell around Sheffield.
Campaigners are also upset at the type of trees which will replace the ones being felled – they say that the trees replacing those being felled are not as beneficial for the environment, and may take away from Sheffield’s green landscape.
This has come after a city-wide campaign to save Sheffield’s Roadside trees by local residents.
The outrage comes down to a 25-year, £2 billion contract with infrastructure giants Amey as part of the Streets Ahead scheme. This contract was supposed to see Sheffield’s roads and pavements refurbished and repaired over 5 years and maintained from then on.
However, protesters are frustrated with the number of trees which are to be felled around Sheffield, and have said that Amey have not made it clear why a lot of the trees are being cut down.
A protest camp was set up in Endcliffe park to keep watch over the trees in question on Rustlings Road, bringing the campaign both local and national media attention.
Speaking at the camp, Helen McIlroy, from Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT), said that the campaign want the criteria of tree feeling to be more clear: “Obviously some trees are dead, or so diseased that they can’t be saved. We’re not idiots.
“What we want is for the council and/or Amey to be open about the criteria they use to decide which trees they are going to fell, and for those criteria to be recognised as valid by independent experts.
“It’s the apparent arbitrariness of it and the apparent lack of sensitivity and lack of knowledge which angers us”
The council’s behaviour has come under scrutiny by protesters, with the head of SORT, Calvin Payne, saying: “The fact is that the vast majority of people do not want this to happen, but they feel they have no way of expressing that. They’ve tried petitioning – 14,000 have done that – they’ve tried lobbying MPs, they’ve tried lobbying Councillors, but it just hasn’t worked”
When questioned on the matter at Nether Edge Bowling Club this month, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “I appreciate the natural environment of Sheffield and how important it is to our reputation.
“In an effective tree strategy, some will have to go and some will have to be replaced. I know that at the end of this scheme, there will be more trees in Sheffield than there were at the start.”
The trees on Rustlings Road are at the centre of this city-wide debate, and although three have been saved, there are 8 more that are still on the Council’s felling list. Campaigners are hoping that their work makes the Council reconsider it’s decision.