Tree felling set to start again in Sheffield

Tree felling to set to resume in Sheffield
Tree felling to set to resume in Sheffield

Tree felling is set to resume in Sheffield, with campaigners objecting to the scheme warned that unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.

Felling was halted last month following an escalation of incidents involving protesters objecting to the controversial scheme, which is being carried out as part of a £2 billion road improvement programme.

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Sheffield Council said the felling work was paused due to an 'increase in unlawful activity around work sites'.

A safety review of on-site working practices has been carried out 'to ensure both the safety of the public and the workforce,' the council said today.

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When felling resumes, council contractor Amey’s stewarding team will remove protesters from within the safety zones around trees if they try to obstruct arborists and refuse to leave when asked.

They will also be gathering and providing evidence to the authorities to pursue civil and criminal action.

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Streets Ahead Account Director, Darren Butt, from Sheffield Council, said: "Our work replacing street trees is essential, but keeping our staff, the public and protesters safe from harm and within the law is paramount.

"We have tried everything we can think of to discourage people from deliberately obstructing us, but the behaviour of a small minority of people has been increasingly worrying.

"The last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the circumstances we experienced on Meersbrook Park Road in January, where one of our staff suffered a broken wrist, another needed to be rescued from a tree and there was damage to our equipment.

"There is no legitimate basis for this behaviour. Sheffield City Council has a legal duty to maintain the city’s highway and there is a High Court injunction in place to keep our working areas clear and safe.

"South Yorkshire Police are investigating a number of allegations of criminal activity, including assault, resulting from this and other incidents.

"Sheffield City Council also recently brought successful action against a second individual for breaching the injunction which resulted in a suspended prison sentence and £11,000 costs for the person in question."

He added: "We welcome peaceful protest that stays within the law and urge people to remain outside our safety zones and to respect the peace of local communities.

"But if people persist in breaking the law or breaching the injunction we will pass any relevant evidence to the police and the Council to assist with further action."

Campaigners objecting to the felling work believe healthy trees are being felled unnecessarily and that there are solutions available to save trees deemed to be damaging roads and pavements.

A number of protests have been staged at tree felling sites across the city, with some requiring police intervention because of stand-offs.