Furious residents fear there will be ‘carnage’ in their leafy Sheffield community if plans to axe dozens of trees – many of them healthy – go ahead.
Protests against the plans are growing in Greenhill, with residents confronting workers from Sheffield Council contractor Amey twice in just days.
They want work to be delayed while alternative solutions for healthy trees – some of which the council says need to come down because they are damaging pavements or properties but campaigners say are causing only minimal disruption – are considered.
“It’s going to be carnage up here if all these trees come down,” said campaigner David Dillner, who was among those protesting as a tree was cut down by workers yesterday.
Protesters have concerns about the effect on wildlife, the character of the area and its tree canopy cover if the trees are felled and replaced with saplings.
The protest group in Greenhill is the latest to spring up over the felling of trees - which has always provoked debate but became particularly controversial this year as 11 trees on Rustlings Road, near Endcliffe Park, faced the axe.
In Greenhill around 45 trees have notices on saying they are to be felled, in some cases because they are diseased, which campaigners accept.
But in others the reason given for removal is because the trees are damaging the pavement or property - and campaigners feel this is too extreme a measure for minimal damage to pavements.
They are calling for alternatives to be considered and the work to be paused in the meantime, suggesting that any tree removal should be over a longer period of time,
“We’re not saying that no trees should go at all”, said Debbie Elsdon, one of the tree campaigners who discovered what was planned to happen two weeks ago.
“But we think they are going for the cheaper option and getting rid of more than needs to. Within our group there are experts who say there are other alternatives to felling these trees and there are some healthy trees that can be saved.
“They are doing it too quickly, all we are asking for is a bit of time and consideration.”
Debbie has asked Sheffield Council and its contractor Amey, for a map showing how tree canopy cover in Greenhill will be affected if all the trees scheduled to be axed come down and are replaced by saplings.
Five have so far come down. Protesters fear wildlife will be affected, as well as the area’s character and want a more ‘gentle’ tree strategy.
Debbie added: “The trees being removed are huge, mature trees that provide a beautiful feel to our area and habitats to wildlife. The saplings to replace them cannot possibly provide the same.”
Work began to remove trees in Greenhill on Thursday and protesters met them at the scene.
Workers stopped - and the campaigners understood that a call from Heeley MP Louise Haigh had led to a temporary suspension.
But the council has insisted this is not the case and yesterday a tree on Glen Howe Road was axed.
Mr Dillner, who has been involved with the tree campaign in Heeley, added: “The only problem these trees are causing is harm to Amey’s profits if they don’t come down.
“It will be carnage if they are allowed to continue this, on Westwick Road on just one side there are seven trees that are going to come down.
“It is an absolute environmental crime.”
The council says all trees indicated for replacement in Greenhill have been assessed by Amey experts and those findings scrutinised by council counterparts.
Coun Terry Fox, cabinet member for environment, said all trees would be replaced on a one for one basis
He added: “A number of trees in Greenhill area are indicated for removal due to engineering constraints around issues, such as damage to highway infrastructure and third party properties.
“However, we would like to reassure residents we are also removing a significant number on safety grounds, including those which are structurally compromised or diseased.
“To our knowledge, work has not been suspended as no instruction to cease has been issued.”
Residents are urged to attend a tree forum from 5pm next Wednesday September 2 at Sheffield Town Hall.