Campaigners ready to show anger at Sheffield tree fellings during hearse-led 'funeral' procession

Tree campaigners will gather in Sheffield city centre tomorrow.
Tree campaigners will gather in Sheffield city centre tomorrow.
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Tree campaigners will join for a 'funeral' procession through Sheffield city centre ahead of a rally this weekend.

People opposed to the council's street tree felling and replacement programme will make their feelings known from midday, when they gather at Devonshire Green.

Campaigners say healthy trees are being felled for profit.

Campaigners say healthy trees are being felled for profit.

Led by a hearse to symbolise the thousands of trees already cut down as part of the Streets Ahead programme, campaigners will march to Barker's Pool where they will hold a rally.

Representatives from charities such as the Woodland Trust, academics and arboriculturalists will speak at an event designed to show the continuing opposition to the council's plans.

Sheffield Tree Action Groups co-chairman Chris Rust said: "We expect a big turnout because there is huge anger at the way the council has tried to intimidate the public, from threats of imprisonment to sending out detectives to photograph and follow people in the street - ordinary residents and passers by not connected with the tree campaign.

"We feel that our stand against the fellings is justified by the huge support given recently by Trees for Cities to understand the value of the trees we live with."

The council says the trees need to be replaced to it can repair the highway.

The council says the trees need to be replaced to it can repair the highway.

A post on the Facebook page for the rally adds: "Please come along to celebrate the passion of everyone who continues to defend our beautiful trees, and to say goodbye to those we've lost.

"Trees of Sheffield invite all campaign groups, organisations and individuals who care about our trees to make their voice heard and their feelings shown, about saving remaining healthy street trees, whether they are ‘special’ ones like the WWI memorials, or the local street trees that protect and uplift us wherever we go in our city.

"Bring families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, pets, banners, flowers, your message and of course, good humour.

"There will be speakers to inspire you, words and music to raise your spirits and let's all enjoy ourselves."

The post adds: "Let’s make our voice the biggest, loudest, clearest it's ever been for Sheffield City Council to hear, for them to finally decide to work with us, instead of against."

The council is pressing ahead with plans to cut down and replace 6,000 of the city's 36,000 street trees by the end of the year as part of a 25-year highways PFI contract with Amey.

The authority says the trees are either dead, dying, dangerous, damaging the highway or discriminatory - i.e. preventing people from using roads and pavements.

But campaigners maintain that healthy trees are being felled for profit, and say the council is not listening to residents.

Two campaigners, Alison Teal and Calvin Payne, will appear in court in Sheffield next Friday for allegedly breaching an injunction that stops people protesting inside safety barriers put up around street trees. They could be fined or sent to prison.