Sheffield Council chiefs have claimed they would have to stump up £26 million if all trees earmarked to be replaced in the city were saved.
They are now urging people to support the Streets Ahead contract with Amey, which also focuses on the resurfacing of roads and replacement of street lights, for the ‘sake of future generations’.
Coun Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield Council, insisted the highly controversial programme is about protection – not destruction.
She said: “Without this programme, our children and grandchildren would not be able to say they live in one of the greenest cities in Britain.
“I hope people realise that this tree replacement work is absolutely vital to maintain Sheffield’s tree-lined streets for future generations.
“This is a programme of protection, not destruction, and represents the largest investment there has ever been in the city’s street trees.
“Without the Streets Ahead programme, dying or dangerous trees would not be replaced.
“The facts are that since Streets Ahead started we have removed 3,388 trees and planted 3,618.”
According to the council there are still 2,000 more trees to be replaced on Sheffield highways as part of the contract. Of those, 100 are down to be replaced because Amey says they are diseased or dying.
The council said there are 200 trees which would cost between £50,000 and £100,000 to save, 1,000 which cost between £3,000 and £5,000, and 700 trees which would cost around £1,000 to save.
While the authority stressed that the numbers were estimates, this gives a figure of up to £26 million.
Coun Dore added: “We’ve listened to people’s concerns and paused the programme to survey 5,136 households on the 80 streets where we are planning tree replacements.
“Though only 13 per cent of those households replied, we have still referred 42 streets to an independent tree panel.”
Coun Dore said it was not acceptable that disabled residents were unable to use footpaths in Sheffield, due to trees making pavements uneven.
She is now urging people to read the Streets Ahead Five year Tree Management Strategy – at www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead – after it was released last week and reflect on the aim of ‘protecting the city’s 36,000 street trees for years to come’. The council have made an interactive map of where new trees have been planted: www.sheffield.gov.uk/in-your-area/report_request/trees.html