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Fallen tree sparks new war of words in Sheffield felling saga

Paul Hirst, pictured, by the that tree has blown down onto his home, in Myrtle Road, Heeley.
Paul Hirst, pictured, by the that tree has blown down onto his home, in Myrtle Road, Heeley.

A war of words has flared over a diseased tree which came down yesterday in high winds in Sheffield.

The tree – a mature whitebeam – smashed into a house on Myrtle Road in Heeley at around midday on Wednesday.

A tree has blown over onto a house on Myrtle Road, Heeley.

A tree has blown over onto a house on Myrtle Road, Heeley.

The man whose house it fell into – Paul Hirst – said the tree had been scheduled to come down some time ago, but this was delayed by the felling pause earlier this year.

The Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) admitted they had tried to save the tree, but said the council had identified it as damaging, not diseased.

They blamed the council for letting a dangerous tree deteriorate and crash into someone’s house while cutting down perfectly healthy trees nearby.

Householder, Paul Hirst, aged 60, said: “It was meant to come down at the beginning of this year but because of all the tree protests they never came back.

Tree protester, Simon Crump.

Tree protester, Simon Crump.

“Fortunately the small branches stopped it from crashing down too hard. If it had some down quickly it would easily have put the window in.”

Paul – who is a building supervisor at a local school – said he had to cut his way out of his house to help his neighbour get to a doctors appointment.

He added it had been ‘surprising’ to see the tree come down in winds that were strong but not gale force, but that it was obvious from looking at its soft roots that it was severely diseased.

Alerted by the sound of chainsaws, STAG member Simon Crump, who lives a few doors further up Myrtle Road, said: “None of us have any problem with diseased or dangerous trees being removed.

“But what we object to is the taking down of healthy trees when there are other engineering solutions available. They can’t use the pause as an excuse not to fell. It is nice to see these guys doing something that isn’t vandalism.”

Amey account director, Darren Butt, said: “The tree in question was identified for replacement as part of the Streets Ahead tree programme and due to be replaced in summer 2017, but was included in the recent pause of the programme.”

“In a typical year around 200 trees have to be replaced due to storms, natural wastage, vehicle impact and gales. To allow clearing  to take place, we are asking that people are patient and let staff get on with their job in the current dangerous conditions.”