Council waits on trees ruling

Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.
Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.

A final judgement on whether Sheffield Council should continue felling street trees under its highways programme is expected in less than two weeks - after a temporary injunction was lifted at the High Court.

Heeley tree campaigner Dave Dilner was granted an interim injunction last month, preventing the council and its contractor Amey felling trees as part of the Streets Ahead project.

This week a judge at the High Court in London lifted the injunction with immediate effect - however, the council has said it will not resume felling in earnest until the final decision is handed down.

Mr Dilner said: “I am extremely concerned at the discharge of the injunction because of the risks to the trees we have fought so hard to protect, and we put our hope in the city acting responsibly during the period before the judgment is handed down.”

He added: “On Sheffield City Council’s application to discharge the injunction, Mr Justice Gilbart reached the view that the interim injunction protecting the trees should be discharged with immediate effect.

“This has the consequence of permitting SCC/Amey to commence immediate felling of trees. The claimant’s legal team are considering whether to appeal the order, but in the meantime will write to the city to request that they exercise thought, care and sensitivity in not carrying on any felling until the expedited judgment is handed down.”

Simon Green, the council’s executive director of place, said: “We are delighted that the court has agreed with the council’s case to have the tree injunction lifted.

“However, we have been clear throughout that we want to make sure that our work with communities on this issue is right, so we will not resume the full street tree replacement programme until we have had the court’s final decision.”

But he added: “We will of course continue to assess our trees and replace those that are dangerous.”

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg has previously described the tree felling as a ‘national scandal’.

The work is being carried out as part of the £2bn project to improve the state of Sheffield’s roads.

Last year the council set up an independent panel which reviews the plans for streets where a majority of residents express concern.