On Friday I was horrified to see Amey workmen butchering the last four mature trees in Sheffield city centre, at Fitzalan Square.
Amey have admitted that this is to prevent birds nesting there this spring so that the trees can soon be felled.
The council have completely ignored the 2,947 people who signed my Save the Fitzalan Square Plane Trees petition to stop this, and the vast majority of people who commented on the planning application on the Council website.
There is no doubt that Fitzalan Square needs improvements. These should be designed around the precious assets of the four plane trees.
Fitzalan Square suffers from poor air quality due to traffic pollution. The London plane trees are particularly effective at removing pollutants from traffic-heavy areas like this in the city centre.
The trees are one of the few things of beauty in a square currently noted for its betting shops, proliferation of litter and intrusive advertising boards.
The trees provide a great deal of biodiversity to the square including starlings and insects which will be lost despite the planting of new saplings.
The Tree Condition survey, written by the council’s tree manager, states: “Removal of these four trees will have a significant impact on the immediate area. The city centre has the lowest percentage tree cover in Sheffield and there are relatively few large trees within the area. Visually, the trees provide a natural living feature that helps to soften the harsh lines of the existing built environment. The trees play an important role in trapping and removing pollutants from the surrounding air as well as providing dappled shade for users of the square. The canopies also help to break up wind movement that may otherwise funnel between the buildings. All four trees are well established with a significant potential longevity All are considered to be in their prime.”
As usual the council have ignored the experts, the will of the people, the environment and the wildlife and have opted for the chainsaw. Experts tell me the butchered trees could still survive, so it is not too late for the council to change its mind.
Glencoe Road, Sheffield, S2