‘Fight will go on’ to save Sheffield trees

Dave Dillner with some of the trees he has campaigned to save in Greenhill
Dave Dillner with some of the trees he has campaigned to save in Greenhill

A campaigner who lost a High Court battle over Sheffield Council’s tree felling policy has vowed ‘the fight will go on’ – as an appeal was lodged against the ruling.

Heeley resident Dave Dillner said he was ‘disappointed’ after a High Court judge refused a judicial review into the council’s PFI contract with Amey, Streets Ahead.

But after consulting with his legal team, Mr Dillner was told he had ‘strong grounds’ for an appeal and has now formally lodged one with the court.

Mr Dillner, the sole claimant, said: “This ruling is not the end of anything – the fight will go on.

“I am not going away. This issue is not going away and I will continue to do everything I can to save thousands of healthy trees from being felled in our city trees.”

Mr Dillner said he expected his appeal would be heard next month.

He said: “The timescale is up in the air at the moment. I don’t think it will be this month, probably next month.”

After the ruling, Mr Dillner was ordered to pay £5,000 towards the council’s legal fees.

The Save Sheffield’s Trees fundraising has reopened again and currently has more than £15,000 towards future legal battles.

But Mr Dillner said he has more ideas.

He said: “We have some big names who will publicly back the campaign, if it comes to that.

“We are also planning events through the summer to raise awareness and funds.”

Mr Dillner said he ‘felt forced’ to take the council to court in a bid to save thousands of mature and healthy trees from the axe.

But Mr Justice Andrew Gilbart said Mr Dillner’s claim had been ‘devoid of merit’.

Sheffield Council has said it was ‘pleased’ with the ruling but stressed the authority would continue to listen to residents’ concerns about the felling policy.

During the long-running battle, campaigners said no cost benefit analysis has been done for the felling of trees on the city’s streets.

The tree-felling programme has sparked protests across Sheffield and former deputy prime minister and Sheffield Hallam Lib Dem MP Nick Clegg has raised concerns.

Earlier this year, Mr Clegg described the programme as a ‘national scandal’.

But council bosses say the programme is essential if Sheffield’s 36,000 street trees are to be managed for future generations.

They say trees scheduled for felling are dying or diseased, or pose dangers.

But protesters objected and Mr Dillner took legal action against the council.

The court analysed Mr Dillner’s claim throughout March and ruled against him at the end of April.

To donate towards the legal fees, visit: www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/sheffield-trees/