Mother's plea to Sheffield council to save 'fume-blocking' tree for asthmatic son

Residents want to save the tree.
Residents want to save the tree.
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A Sheffield mother is urging council leaders to save a tree she says blocks toxic fumes from reaching her asthmatic son's bedroom.

The large London plane tree near the home of Jane Avgousti in Dunkeld Road is one of several in the area marked for felling as part of the council's Streets Ahead programme.

Jane and Finlay.

Jane and Finlay.

Protesters have been fighting to save all of the city's roadside trees. But Jane believes there is a particularly strong reason not to cut down the one near her home.

Her 10-year-old son Finlay has chronic and debilitating asthma, and pollutants in the air can trigger serious attacks.

Jane has written to council leader Julie Dore and cabinet member for the environment Bryan Lodge urging them to intervene in the felling programme.

"The tree is effectively a shield for our road, absorbing the particulates and fumes emitted by the heavy traffic along Ecclesall Road which aggravate Finlay’s condition," wrote Jane.

Jane Avgousti with her son Finlay, 10

Jane Avgousti with her son Finlay, 10

"I am very worried about my son's health - its a horrible feeling seeing your child suffering and having to go into hospital, you feel so helpless.

"I truly believe this one tree does make a difference, and am literally begging you to do anything you can to take another look at whether it is essential to chop it down."

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Jane has not yet had a response. But in a statement, Coun Lodge said: “Whilst the council is sorry to hear about Mrs Avgousti’s sons health problems, the ongoing tree replacement works in Sheffield are absolutely essential to ensure Sheffield has a healthy, sustainable tree stock for years to come.

Finlay by the tree in Dunkeld Road his family is trying to save.

Finlay by the tree in Dunkeld Road his family is trying to save.

"In addition, it has been proven that that the leaves of London plane trees, which are the trees found on Dunkeld Road, shed fine hairs known as trichomes which are an irritant for those with lung conditions and can especially aggravate the symptoms of asthma."

Coun Lodge said the trees marked for felling in Dunkeld Road had been identified as either 'dead, dying, diseases, dangerous, discriminatory or damaging' and about 70 per cent of residents in the street who responded to a survey said they were in favour of the felling.

“The Streets Ahead programme replaces every tree on at least a one-for-one basis, and in addition to this the council has planted over 50,000 new trees across Sheffield in creating 17 new woodlands, reflecting our commitment to establishing sustainable green spaces for future generations,” he added.

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