Sheffield tree campaigners due in court charged with injunction breach

Tree felling works are currently on hold across Sheffield.
Tree felling works are currently on hold across Sheffield.
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Four campaigners could face jail and be forced to pay costs for allegedly breaching a court order while trying to stop trees being felled in Sheffield.

Paul Brooke, Simon Crump, Benoit Benz Cumpin and Fran Grace are due to appear in the High Court on June 5 after being charged with breaching an injunction during protests in December and January.

Sheffield Tree Action Groups said it was 'astonished' the council was pursuing court action given that works are currently on hold and signs of a compromise from new cabinet member responsible for the environment and Street Scene portfolio Coun Lewis Dagnall.

The case is due to be heard in the High Court in Sheffield from June 5 to June 7.

Chris Rust, of STAG, said: "We are astonished that the council is taking this action now while also saying there needs to be compromise in order to move on. This is no way to compromise and build trust."

Council contractor Amey is carrying out tree felling works as part of its £2.2 billion Streets Ahead deal with the council but works have been on pause since March following clashes between protesters and security staff across Sheffield.

Arborists are felling and replacing trees deemed dangerous, dead, diseased, dying or which are said to be damaging streets and pavements but objectors to the scheme have staged a number of protests across the city.

Trees earmarked for felling are fenced or cordoned off and a court injunction is in place making it illegal for protesters to enter the safety zones. But a number of cordons have been breached, leading to a number of arrests.

Laraine Manley, executive director of Place at Sheffield Council, said: “Despite a high court injunction being in place to allow work on some street trees to continue safely, four more people have breached this ruling and are now facing court action. In addition, two of the individuals had previously signed an undertaking not to breach the injunction order.

“It is totally regrettable that we are in this position once again, but breaching the injunction is breaking the law, and we ask that people respect the high court judge’s ruling by remaining outside of our safety barriers.”