Almost 200 trees saved after being re-inspected

Almost 200 Sheffield trees which were due to be felled have been saved after being reassessed prompting campaigners to say – we told you so.

Almost 200 Sheffield trees which were due to be felled have been saved
Almost 200 Sheffield trees which were due to be felled have been saved

A survey of 309 street trees found 191 could be retained on a longer term basis, a new report reveals.

Sheffield Tree Action Groups said it was ‘great news but no surprise’ that almost two-thirds of those trees could be saved.

A report which will go to Cabinet next week says the council is looking at a new Street Tree Strategy to ‘guide the management’ of the city’s stock over the coming decades. 

Mick Crofts, director of business strategy and regulation, says in the report: “Of the 309 street trees remaining from the core investment period of the Streets Ahead programme, 191 have been identified as being able to be retained on a longer term basis. 

“A further 26 require bespoke solutions to be designed, but are, in principle, capable of being retained.

“One has been identified as needing to be removed and replaced as part of the phased process. A further 91 trees were still to be investigated. 

“The above statistics demonstrate that the new approach adopted, and the additional funding being made available by Amey for bespoke solutions, is having a significant positive impact.” 

Sheffield Tree Action Groups said this showed many trees did not need to be felled.

Paul Brooke, co-chairman of STAG, said: “Over the last few months we have been able to observe Amey workers doing simple highway repairs to a good standard, such as fitting thin kerbs and removing old built up tarmac. 

“The announcement that 62 per cent of the 309 trees, that we due to be felled ‘as a last resort’, can now be retained indefinitely is great news but no surprise. It is what we campaigned for.

“We look forward to reviewing the lessons learned and publishing the joint assessments with the council. 

“We are confident this will show that very few healthy trees needed to be felled in order to complete the Streets Ahead road scheme. At some point in the future I have little doubt that we will reflect on how we, as a city, got this so wrong.

“We hope that the development of an exemplary Street Tree Strategy will protect the future of our much needed urban forest and will result in an increase in the street canopy cover with all the health and environmental benefits that brings.”

Last September Amey and council chiefs met members of the Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) steering group for mediated talks chaired by the Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox. 

A new strategy will explore a number of issues such as the long-term aims for street tree numbers and canopy cover, management and maintenance of the tree stock, and how communities can become more involved in the future. 

Liz Ballard, chief executive of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, has been appointed to the role of independent chair of the group that will oversee the development of the strategy. 

The group will consist of council bosses, Amey and STAG, as well as other stakeholders, such as the Woodland Trust. It will draw on expertise from ‘specialist practitioners’ and a council officer will provide research and drafting support.