William Eichler 25 October 2018

Sheffield CC tables proposal to end tree felling dispute

Sheffield City Council has tabled a proposal to save 300 trees and ‘phase the work on others’ in an effort to end the long running dispute over tree felling.

The city council’s felling and replacement contract with the infrastructure provider Amey has led to 5,500 trees being chopped down over the last six years.

The contract is designed to ‘upgrade’ the city’s roads, pavements, street lights, and bridges.

Under pressure from the Information Commissioner, the council admitted last March the contract could lead to ‘the replacement of up to 17,500 highway trees’ with saplings over the next two decades. This amounts to half the city’s trees.

This has led to protests across the city by residents and groups who argue that healthy trees are being felled in the process.

Work has been on hold since March pending an agreement between Sheffield City Council, Amey and campaigners.

Cllr Lewis Dagnall, the cabinet member for environment and streetscene, announced yesterday that after three days of mediated talks the council and Amey had agreed to save 300 trees and ‘phase the work on others’.

He added that Amey had proposed to fund ‘additional engineering solutions’ to make this possible at no extra cost to the council.

‘We have also proposed that part of the way forward is for the council to develop a new street tree strategy for the city, co-produced with other stakeholders,’ he said.

‘We will also bring forward our overarching Trees and Woodlands Strategy soon.’

Responding to the council’s statement, Sheffield Tree Action Groups — an umbrella organisation for local protest groups — stressed that they had not agreed to any specific plan proposed by the council.

However, they added: ‘We continue to explore possible plans with SCC [Sheffield City Council] and are committed to doing everything we can to help resolve this painful dispute between citizens and council.’

Cllr Dagnall’s statement concluded: ‘There is work still to do in agreeing the detail of how we manage Sheffield’s street trees now and on an ongoing basis.

‘Over the next few weeks we will invite further scrutiny of our proposals from stakeholders, before we then open a wider public conversation about our next steps.’

Image: Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com.

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