Arrests won't deter Sheffield tree protesters from sending message to council

Sheffield tree campaigners have vowed to continue their protests despite the threat of arrests and court appearances.

Tuesday, 17th January 2017, 2:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th January 2017, 2:11 pm
Protesters look on as Amey contractors fell a tree in Dunkeld Road, Sheffield.

Contractors faced further opposition when they turned up to fell trees in Nether Edge this week.

Protesters made their views about Sheffield Council's policy known in Dunkeld Road today and on Monday, surrounding a tree that had been adorned with yellow ribbons.

Four people are awaiting court hearings in relation to previous tree protests, and this week police were called once again. But no arrests were made, and the tree was eventually cut down without incident.

It became one of thousands so far felled as part of the 25-year Streets Ahead contract with Amey, which began in 2012.

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Appeal to cover court costs of Sheffield tree protesters passes £1,500 markMore Sheffield tree protest arrests ‘inevitable’, say campaignersChris Rust was among the people watching effect of the chainsaws today. The protest was tiny compared to the ring of people that surrounded the Town Hall this month, or the rally in Endliffe Park in November.

The tree comes down.

But Mr Rust, 69, said it was important to keep the protests going, with a focus on the whole city rather than individual trees.

"I live in Ladysmith Avenue in Nether Edge, where the idea is to fell almost all the trees and destroy the canopy.

"There is now evidence that says there are significant benefits to health if you live in a street like this.

"We are trying to say the whole programme is so badly planned that we don't trust the judgements or the democratic process being used to consult with residents.

Campaigners have vowed to continue their protests.

"It is a bad consultation and a lot of highly questionable judgements in a secret contract.

"All we can do is oppose them and show that there is resistance. We hope that they will stop before the do any more serious damage."

The tree felling and resulting protests have generated global headlines, and attracted comment from a range of top politicians and famous faces.

But Mr Rust said the continuing opposition in Sheffield was causing a change in the council's behaviour.

The tree comes down.

"I think we are having an effect," he said. "The council seems to be in a much more open frame of mind. They seem to want to talk about it.

"Whether that will lead us anywhere, I don't know."

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Campaigners have vowed to continue their protests.