Tree-planting cause ‘fed false information’

Streets Ahead contractors explore the roots of trees in Western Road, Crookes. Campaigners are fighting to save those due to be felled as they are war memorials.
Streets Ahead contractors explore the roots of trees in Western Road, Crookes. Campaigners are fighting to save those due to be felled as they are war memorials.

The council is to hold talks with an environmental charity that has pulled out of developing projects in Sheffield after expressing ‘deep concerns’ over tree-felling.

Trees for Cities, which has been involved with Sheffield for a decade, called for the council to ‘immediately suspend’ the felling of 10,000 trees as part of the Streets Ahead highways scheme until a way forward was agreed ‘among all key stakeholders’.

The charity, which has planted more than 25,000 trees in Sheffield, recently worked with the authority to create ‘urban woodlands’.

In a statement, the organisation said: “We have worked closely with the community forestry team and always received great support. It is with deep regret, however, that while these practices continue, Trees for Cities is unable to develop further projects on council land.”

The charity said healthy mature trees had been felled by contractor Amey ‘where other options were available’.

But Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment, said the group was acting ‘seemingly on the basis of erroneous information’.

“In the next few weeks we will meet with Trees for Cities. It appears some of its members are protesters who may have influenced the charity.”

He claimed there would be more street trees in when the Streets Ahead contract finished. Last week charges were dropped against 14 activists accused of obstructing felling. Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has been asked by Natalie Bennett, Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Central, to launch an inquiry.

Work started this week to check how far the roots of war memorial trees earmarked for felling on Western Road, Crookes, had spread.