Anger over pre-dawn tree felling in Sheffield

Branches were removed from trees in Sheffield at 4.15am today
Branches were removed from trees in Sheffield at 4.15am today

Residents have complained about pre-dawn tree felling carried out in Sheffield this morning while people slept.

They claim branches were removed from trees in Abbeydale Park Rise and Chatsworth Road in Dore at around 4.15am.

Branches were removed from trees on Abbeydale Park Rise while residents slept this morning

Branches were removed from trees on Abbeydale Park Rise while residents slept this morning

Arborists are said to have used saws to remove overhanging branches under the cover of darkness to avoid waking residents up.

Abbeydale Park Rise residents have decorated their street trees with lights every Christmas for the last 30 years and are raising money this year for St Luke's Hospice with donations made by visitors to the festive display.

This morning they said they were upset to find that the wire to lights decorating one of the trees was cut when branches were removed.

Residents who heard the activity said they gathered in the street and no further work was carried out.

But branches were removed from trees on nearby Chatsworth Road and full scale felling began later.

The trees are being felled as part of Sheffield Council's 'Streets Ahead' programme, where all the city's road and pavements are being upgraded.

Trees earmarked for felling have been classed as dead, diseased or causing damage or obstruction.

Campaigner Sally Goldsmith said: "They arrived at 4.15am and did the work with saws so not to wake people up, but residents did realise what was happening and went out.

"They found branches being removed without the use of any lights - surely this can't be safe?

"No parking notices have been on Abbeydale Park Rise for the last seven weeks so we knew they were coming but to do so in the middle of the night is underhand.

"People are doing all they can there to save the trees, including a woman in her 60s with arthritis and a stick who is outside in all weathers every day protecting the tree outside her home - such is the level of feeling against the felling."

She said families have visited the tree lights every year for three decades and it is 'bumper to bumper on the road every Christmas Eve'.

There is a carol service due to be held there at 4pm on Saturday.

In November last year Sheffield Council residents in Rustlings Road, Endcliffe, were woken at 5am by council contractors felling trees with chainsaws in the middle of the night.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for environment, was forced to apologise over the timing of the activity at the time and said 'we know we got it wrong'.

But last month the council said contractor Amey would be carrying out work earlier than before.

It said felling work had 'become increasingly difficult' because of a small number of protesters breaching a High Court injunction by entering cordons put in place around trees to allow work to be carried out safely.

Councillor Bryan Lodge said: "Starting work ahead of 7am will enable Amey to prepare their work sites as safely as possible, whilst the roads and streets are much quieter. Work on other areas of the contract is often undertaken at night and so, Amey have a breadth of experience when managing operations in these circumstances.

“Frustratingly, Amey continue to be faced with people climbing into their work sites or obstructing the erection of the barriers, which not only prevents work from continuing but also causes unnecessary and prolonged disruption to local residents. Nobody wants that.

“The Council supports peaceful protest but there is a difference between this and unlawful direct action which goes against the wishes of the majority of Sheffield residents.

Around 250 trees are earmarked for felling over the next few weeks.