Sheffield tree felling "has to be questioned", says Arb Association

The Arboricultural Association has issued a statement questioning the judgment of Sheffield City Council on its current tree-felling programme and calling for alternatives to be considered, as local protests against the programme continue.

Image: Julia Bodle
Image: Julia Bodle

The statement reads:

The Council have a legal responsibility to remove trees which are in a seriously diseased or dangerous condition. The removal of trees which are not dangerous but are merely seen to be "damaging" (to the pavement or nearby walls) or "discriminatory" (causing alleged obstruction to people with visual or physical impairments) has to be questioned. We would hope that all alternatives to removal would have been fully considered and explained to all stakeholders before any action was taken.

Furthermore, we reiterate the importance of councils, local authorities and anyone with trees under their stewardship to strive for and advocate the sustainable management of trees, as well as highlighting the need for clear lines of communication and collaboration between all relevant parties before such crucial decisions are made.

Meanwhile a petition has been launched by Sheffield resident and campaigner Chris Rust calling on the city's Independent Tree Panel to resign. It claims the panel of tree experts, launched by the council to provide independent advice on contested tree felling decisions, has "a sham role" as the council has "overruled this judgement in the great majority of cases and the felling programme has proceeded almost exactly as planned". The petition currently has 433 signatories.

In a highly contentious round of felling last week, the panel recommended against felling six of the eight trees, but its verdict was published only once felling was under way. In practice only one of the eight remains un-felled, due to a residents' protest in a private garden overhung by the tree (see photograph).

The council has said it "still awaits the outcome" of the ITP's deliberations, as well as of the resident surveys, on further proposed felling of trees on the city's Western Road, which were planted in 1918 to honour local men who fell in the First World War.

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