SHEFFIELD TREES: Europe is watching tree debate, councillor says as opposition calls for more scrutiny

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Cities across Europe will watch Sheffield to see how it deals with the great tree felling debate , the council’s environment chief said.

Coun Terry Fox, cabinet member for environment, told councillors: “Not only cities in Britain but Europe are watching this and we have to take everyone with us.”

He then proposed a highway tree forum be created for further debate and the first meeting of that is now to be arranged. Coun Fox had also said there was a possibility that three of the 11 trees on Rustlings Road could be saved once roots had been examined and that anextra nine would be planted on t, bringing the total to 39.

He stressed the council had legal highways responsibilities, adding: “We do not pay a single penny more to Amey whether they take out a hundred trees or no trees.”

However opposition councillors called for more scrutiny and consultation.

Liberal Democrat Coun Roger Davison said he had asked for information about accidents on Rustlings Road but it had not been provided.

He said he believed it was because there was ‘no proof that these trees were in any way responsible for accidents that occurred.”

Liberal Democrat leader Colin Ross said the evidence of falls did not ‘justify’ the planned action, some trees were being mislabelled and called for a morotorium.

Ukip Coun Jack Clarkson said: “Amey are acting like cowboy builders - it’s easier for Amey to remove the trees and replace them and it is disgraceful.”

Green councillor Sarah Jane-Smalley said ‘there was a lack of vision and overarching strategy’ and the council’s ecology department had not seen the trees being used for replanting.

After the meeting Coun Fox said: “I would like to thank the campaigners for bringing their petition to save the trees on Rustlings Road to full council. We understand that the outcome of the debate may not be what the campaigners had wanted however, I’m hoping that the debate has led to a greater understanding of the reasons for our decision.

“We do have a legal responsibility to ensure that all our roads and pavements are safe for all users.

“Although we have made the decision that some of the trees on Rustlings Road will be replaced, additionally we will be replanting an extra 9 trees that were historically felled and not replaced. There will be a short gap between the felling and replanting as the team only plant trees in the planting season from November to March.

“It is important to put this in context, and remember that Sheffield is the greenest city in the UK with over four trees for every person. We have planted over 50,000 new trees and created 17 new woodlands in the last year alone.

“It is great to see democracy in action, have this debate and ensure people have their voices heard.

“This is why I have also announced today that the first pilot meeting of the tree forum will be arranged, and hopefully we can bring a number of interested parties into the room to have a meaningful debate about our trees.”