Three experts say Sheffield war heroes’ tree is healthy

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A campaigner hoping to save a tree planted in memory of war heroes in a Sheffield suburb has revealed three independent experts have concluded it can be retained.

The London plane tree on Western Road, Crookes, was due to be felled in October after Streets Ahead said it posed a ‘health and safety risk’.

But Jonathan Cocking, a registered fellow of the Aboricultural Association, concluded the tree was in ‘reasonable health’ without any ‘decay or defect that would justify the tree’s removal’.

Tree campaigner Robin Ridley, who funded the independent assessment, said two other arboriculturalists have since stepped forward to corroborate the report.

The trees on Western Road were planted in memory of former Westways Primary School pupils who lost their lives in World War One.

A Streets Ahead spokesperson said: “It does need to be felled due to a structural fault. An arboriculturist may say that’s okay, but seeing it’s near a road, we can’t have things dropping on people. It is no longer possible to safely retain the tree.”

But Robin said by pruning the upper branches, any danger would be reduced and the tree could live for another 40 years. He added: “That’s what they do in Paris or London, where they have a proper tree policy, which we don’t have.

“Fifty-five people a year across the country turn up with a tree related injury. You’re 40 times more likely to be injured by a wheelie bin than you are by a tree. Are the council going to remove wheelie bins? That’s just trying to put it into perspective.

“It’s fair enough taking down dead and dangerous trees, but they’re scooping up ones that could be retained with a bit of work.

“Part of the tree debate is around whether it should be saved – what the arborists are saying is that it could be saved if the council and Amey wanted to.”

Streets Ahead said it would replace the tree with a Turkish hazel, but Robin Ridley said the ‘ornamental plant has a shorter life, it doesn’t grow as big and it doesn’t do as much cleaning’.

The report, which estimated the London plane’s amenity value to be as high as £4,900, stated the species are capable of negating the pollution of several local vehicles while providing oxygen, a ‘veritable public service’.