Tree campaigners to protest after threat of legal action from Sheffield Council

Dave Dillner
Dave Dillner
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Sheffield tree campaigners will gather outside the town hall this week to protest against a council threat of court action.

Members and supporters of Sheffield Tree Action Groups, or Stag, will stage the latest in a series of demonstrations ahead of the full council meeting at 2pm on Wednesday.

Protesters in Chippinghouse Road

Protesters in Chippinghouse Road

They are angry that the authority has begun taking legal action against people who stop Amey workers from felling trees as part of the Streets Ahead programme.

Last week the authority sent letters to more than a dozen people warning them to stop getting in the way of felling by entering 'safety zones' or face 'legal remedies'.

The council claims the protests are unlawful, and protesters have been given until July 12 to confirm in writing that they will stop preventing Amey workers from felling trees.

If they do not, the authority will seek an injunction against them.

Protesters could face damages and even imprisonment if they break an injunction.

Stag member Dave Dillner is among those facing legal action and has arranged Wednesday's protest, which will begin at 12.30pm.

He said: “It is a steamroller to crack a nut. The level at which it is being pursued does feel intimidatory.”

“It will be a protest against the continued felling of trees but perhaps more importantly on the attack on a citizen’s democratic right to protest peacefully."

Campaigners claim healthy trees are being unnecessarily destroyed but the council says the work is required to remove diseased, damaged or dangerous trees.

Six thousand of Sheffield’s 36,000 street trees should have been replaced by the end of the year, with 600 more trees being planted before the end of the programme, according to the council.

Cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge said it was a small minority of protesters who were breaking the law, but the council had 'no alternative' but to consider legal action.

"This is never a position we wanted to be in but we know from our surveys and contact with the public that only a small proportion of the residents across the city disagree with the work we are carrying out," he said.

"“We continue to support the right to peacefully protest, and the majority of protesters who are doing so peacefully will not be affected. But there is a big difference between this and direct action which deliberately and unlawfully stops works from being carried out."

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