TREES: Hundreds expected to join mass protest over controversy

Protestors gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to protest about the cutting down of Sheffield's trees.
Protestors gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to protest about the cutting down of Sheffield's trees.

Hundreds of people are to march in Sheffield over controversial tree felling to show residents ‘their street could be next.’

Around 300 people are already expected to take part in the mass peaceful rally from Sheffield City Hall to Sheffield Town Hall on Saturday, November 14 from 11am.

Sheffield Samba Band will help to create a ‘party’ atmosphere before experts address the crowds on why they believe the policies behind felling of trees as part of Sheffield Council’s Streets Ahead contract with Amey will harm Sheffield ‘for generations.’

Protests have sprung up across the city in the last few months over the replacement of trees and a 10,000 strong petition sparked a council debate on the topic.

“We want to make people aware that their street could be next”, said David Dilner, of Sheffield Tree Action Group.

“Awareness in the city has grown to such a degree since this began, at first we had to shout about it and we were pointed out as tree huggers - but no more.”

He said the speakers would focus on the council’s ‘six Ds’ policy, which details the reasons given for removing trees, as they allegedly dead, dying, diseased, damaging the road or pavement or being discriminatory by causing an obstruction to the disabled.

“The six Ds do not conform to the UK forestry standards or the Helliwell system which places a value on the amenity of trees”, added Mr Dilner.

“They choose to ignore those, they will not ignore this protest.”

Speakers include Dr Nigel Dunnett, from The University of Sheffield, and Professor Ian Rotherham. More than 300 people have said they planned to attend on Facebook.

Organisers also hope to create a striking visual display on the day of the march by having a circle of protestors around the town hall.

The tree controversy began with a protest over removing trees on Rustlings Road, Endcliffe Park, and concerns have since been raised over felling in Greenhill, Heeley, Nether Edge, Dore, Crookes and Hillsborough.

Streets Ahead has always said that removing trees is a last resort and they are replaced, although not necessarily in the same location.

A draft tree strategy - called for by campaigners - is to be revealed later this month.

Meanwhile campaigners say that they are ‘highly sceptical’ of a new independent panel which has been set up to look at residents’ views on trees.

The panel, announced this week, will work by looking at hotspot streets where more than half of residents have raised concerns about planned tree felling in the Streets Ahead contract.

It is separate to a highway tree forum and will advise the council, which will make a final decision.

Chairman Andy Buck said it would take a ‘fresh look’ at the issue.

But Save Our Roadside Trees said the panel was ‘no substitute’ for complying with good practice and questioned whether council and Amey chiefs would act on the evidence of the panel when they had not done so with residents or expert views.

The forums had not addressed many questions raised.

“It is with good reason that we remain highly sceptical about yet another additional panel that will take place in private and feed back its decisions to Coun Terry Fox and his officers which can be overturned by them”, said a campaign spokesman.