Sheffield tree campaigner's warning over damage to homes caused by felling

Tree felling in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.
Tree felling in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.
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Campaigners say the homes of Sheffield residents living near large trees could be damaged if they are felled.

The warning of the dangers of 'ground heave' comes as Sheffield Council continues to cut down selected roadside trees as part of its Streets Ahead programme with Amey.

Chris Rust, of Ladysmith Avenue, Nether Edge, is among those living near large mature trees that have been identified for felling.

He believes the potential problems caused by the removal of such trees should be taken seriously.

"The general issue is that heave can be a real crisis if it happens," the retired academic said.

Ground heave is the name for soil swelling caused by a buildup of rainwater that was previously absorbed by a large tree. It is most likely in clay soils, according to Mr Rust, which are common in Sheffield.

They key concern is where the swelling of the ground causes damage to nearby buildings - usually cellars.

"The theory is that if the house was built before the tree was planted then it has already survived the shrinkage that caused, and can therefore survive any heave," said Mr Rust.

"That's good and well, except some of these houses are over 100 years old. They are not the houses they were when they were built.

"We have had bombs dropped nearby, there are signs of deterioration in the house."

Mr Rust said it was important for people to check with their insurers whether they would be covered for ground heave.

"If it happens to you it could be a really big financial disaster," he said.

The Streets Ahead team has so far felled more than 4,000 roadside trees. The council says about 3,000 have so far been replaced, and about 50,000 trees have been planted to create new woodland.

A Streets Ahead spokesman said: “It is rare that properties are affected by the removal of trees. However, where tree related damage is suspected, this will be investigated.”

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