Sheffield Council defends felling after panel says trees ‘could be retained’

Sheffield city councillor Joe Otten with the stump of a felled tree in Marston Cresscent. It was felled before the independent tree panel had a chance to review it.

Sheffield city councillor Joe Otten with the stump of a felled tree in Marston Cresscent. It was felled before the independent tree panel had a chance to review it.

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Sheffield Council has defended its decision to cut down trees before they were reviewed by an independent panel.

Four trees in the Dore area were felled before the case for retaining them could be considered.

And the council went against the advice of the independent tree panel to retain another four trees, in Marstone Crescent and Ashfurlong Close – deciding instead to cut them down and replace them.

According to the first report of the tree panel, published this month, the council agreed with a recommendation to retain a tree only once.

The panel said that tree, in Ashfurlong Close, could be retained but it would be ‘reasonable’ for the council to fell it. The council decided it could be retained with minor highway repairs.

The council’s cabinet member for environment Coun Bryn Lodge said: “We have an obligation to balance the advice that is received with our legal duty to ensure that the highway is safe for all users. We have always been clear that we would take account of the advice but not be bound by it where we have good reasons not to be.”

Coun Lodge said the council had carried out further assessments on one tree to see if it could be retained, but found ‘the canopy of the tree would need to be reduced by at least 50 per cent’. Our tree experts felt that the better longer term solution would be to replace it.

“We are working hard to retain as many street trees as possible as well as managing a backlog of under investment and trying to have a balanced tree stock going forward.”

Dore Coun Joe Otten, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for the environment, said the decisions confirmed his belief that “the creation of the independent tree panel was just another attempt by Labour councillors to kick the tree protesters’ concerns into the long grass.”

He added: “The panel have made very modest, sensible demands which have been largely ignored by Sheffield Council.”

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