A High Court judge has granted Sheffield Council an injunction to stop three campaigners from taking 'direct action' against tree felling.
Mr Justice Males ruled in the authority's favour this morning in its case against Dave Dillner, Calvin Payne and Green Party councillor Alison Teal.
The council argued that they were protesting 'unlawfully' by going inside safety barriers around trees.
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Today's result means the three campaigners are now legally forbidden from:
- Entering any safety zone put up around any tree within the Sheffield city boundary.
- Seeking to prevent any safety zone from being put up.
- Remaining in a safety zone after it is put up.
- Knowingly leaving a vehicle in a safety zone or intentionally putting one somewhere to stop a safety zone being put up.
They are also forbidden from encouraging anyone else to do the same, including on social media.
The campaigners will be in contempt of court if they break the injunction, and could face a fine or prison.
The injunction will begin at 11.59pm on August 22 to give the time to appeal, and will last until 11.59pm on July 25, 2018.
The judge also granted the council an injunction against 'persons unknown'. What this means for other campaigners who wish to protest while trees are being felled is not yet clear.
The council had sought injunctions against eight people, but five signed undertakings agreeing not to go inside safety barriers.
Cabinet member for the environment Bryan Lodge is expected to give a statement later today.
The campaigners, who can appeal the decision, are fighting what they say is the unnecessary felling of healthy trees under the 25-year Streets Ahead PFI contract with Amey.
They argue that the council and Amey are felling the trees to save money, rather than using engineering solutions to save them.
But the council says that the felling and replacement of 6,000 of the city's 36,000 street trees is necessary, and by going inside safety barriers to protest they are acting unlawfully.
Last week environment secretary Michael Gove stepped into the row, urging the council to stop the felling programme.
But the authority hit back, claiming that making major changes to the PFI contract would create a major financial burden on the city and its taxpayers.