Further arrests in stand-off between Sheffield residents and tree contractors

Two women in their 70s and a young man were arrested at dawn this morning (17 November) for obstructing the felling of trees on Sheffield's Rustlings Road.

Image: Fran Grace
Image: Fran Grace

Residents say they were woken in the middle of the night by police demanding they move their cars.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed that 12 officers were present at Sheffield City Council's request.

The arrested protestors were attempting to defend the last of eight trees earmarked for felling by the council's contractor Amey - the first seven having been felled under cover of darkness.

Sheffield Hallam MP and former Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg described the action as "unjustifiable, underhand and a waste of precious police resources".

Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said that the work "was carried out very early in the morning on the advice of the police to make sure it could be done safely".

He added: "We have worked tirelessly with Amey and the local community to find the right solution for Rustlings Road. We have written to every home, brought in a new survey process for the entire city and set up an Independent Tree Panel. Our approach has been assessed at the High Court on three occasions.

"We need to replace eight out of the 30 trees on Rustlings Road, but we will plant 17, which means the road is gaining an extra nine trees. We understand that this will be a difficult day for the tree campaigners, but this work is absolutely essential to ensure that Sheffield has healthy street trees for future generations."

The story has already received widespread coverage in the national press and broadcast media.

Writing in the Huffington Post today, University of Sheffield professor of philosophy and tree campaigner Jennifer Saul described the action as "stunning authoritarian".

As a majority of residents had questioned the felling, the earmarked trees had been referred to the council's tree panel, she said, adding: "We learned their recommendation today, only after the felling. Although the recommendation was dated 22 July, it was only published this morning at 4.30. The council’s hand-picked experts recommended against felling six of the eight trees."

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