BREAKING: Sheffield tree campaigners will not appeal injunction ruling

Coun Alison Teal, Calvin Payne and Dave Dillner.
Coun Alison Teal, Calvin Payne and Dave Dillner.
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Three Sheffield tree campaigners have decided not to appeal a High Court injunction stopping them from protesting inside safety barriers.

Dave Dillner, Calvin Payne and city councillor Alison Teal must now abide by the terms of the injunction, which comes into force at 11.59pm on Tuesday, or be in contempt of court.

Dave Dillner and Alison Teal

Dave Dillner and Alison Teal

If they break it they could face a fine or prison.

VIDEO: Council and tree campaigners react to High Court injunction ruling | Tree fight 'will continue' despite injunction ruling, say Sheffield campaigners | Key points from High Court judge's injunction ruling on Sheffield tree campaigners | Sheffield Council to pursue tree campaigners for damages and £150,000 legal costs

Campaigners had been protesting underneath trees due to be felled as part of the council's £2.2 billion Streets Ahead highway PFI contract with Amey.

This afternoon Mr Dillner said choosing not to appeal was the 'sensible' thing to do having exhausted all legal avenues, and the campaign would now focus on highlighting things the council would find 'impossible to defend'.

Mr Dillner speaks to the media after the High Court decision.

Mr Dillner speaks to the media after the High Court decision.

He added: "We discussed at great length the actual chance of us securing leave to appeal in the first place - whether sufficient legal grounds existed, and whether the judge had made any mistakes.

"There were a couple of items that were debatable, but having considered the options, and because we realise what the extra cost would amount to, we considered our own position in respect of that.

"We also discussed what the council has already spent and decided that discretion was going to be the better part of valour. We decided that would be the most sensible course of action."

Mr Dillner also said legal costs had been 'mutually agreed' with the council. Earlier this week the authority said it planned to pursue full costs and damages, which could have meant campaigners having to find hundreds of thousands of pounds between them.

The council said it welcomed the decision.

Today's decision means the campaigners will, from 11.59pm on Tuesday, be 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 judge also granted the council an injunction against 'persons unknown', which means the same legal threat applies to anyone breaking the same conditions imposed on the three named campaigners.

Mr Dillner said the campaign - which had been sending out alerts over social media encouraging people to protest whenever tree felling crews were spotted - would now change its tactics.

"Now the campaign will change focus and concentrate on making the wider Sheffield public aware of the implications of the decision to carry on and take the other 400 or so trees by the end of the year," said Mr Dillner.

The council has promised to accelerate the felling and replacement work, alongside road and pavement resurfacing and street light replacement, so it the demands of the contract's five year 'core investment period' are met by the end of the year.

The authority is cutting down and replacing 6,000 of the city's 36,000 street trees.

The council says Sheffield will face serious financial and environmental consequences if the work is not done on time.

Mr Dillner added: "The legal options have now been exhausted. We will now focus on those issues that we 100 per cent believe the council will find it impossible to defend.

"The most obvious one is the often-repeated mantra that felling is always the last resort - and it absolutely isn't.

"We will be out to prove how false that is."

The council's director of culture and environment Paul Billington said: “We welcome the decision by the defendants not to appeal the court’s decision and to accept the terms of the injunction.

"Having heard the arguments, a senior High Court judge has ruled that no-one should trespass inside any tree-felling safety zone and we hope that everyone will respect the law.

“We are pleased that we can now get on with our lawful work, as we have wanted to do for some time.”

The council confirmed it had reached an agreement on costs but said it would remain confidential.