Confusion over Sheffield tree felling continues

Coun Lewis Dagnall
Coun Lewis Dagnall

Confusion surrounds the ongoing saga over Sheffield’s trees following a meeting between council chiefs and protesters.

Cabinet Member for Environment, Lewis Dagnall, had a private meeting with Paul Brooke, co-chairman of the STAG Steering Group, on Tuesday. It was chaired by the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox.

Straight after the meeting, the pair gave a television interview together where Coun Dagnall said the council would fell fewer trees and Mr Brooke said he was happier with the outcome.

But since then, STAG has issued a statement saying it has not approved any plan with the council.

Coun Dagnall today said: “We have made good progress in the three days of mediated talks. We have had constructive discussions regarding outstanding work on street trees.

“Sheffield Council and Amey have tabled a proposal to retain some of the 300 trees that had originally been earmarked for replacement and phase the work on others.

“Amey has proposed to fund additional engineering solutions to make this possible at no additional cost to the council.

“We have also proposed that part of the way forward is for the council to develop a new street tree strategy for the city, co-produced with other stakeholders. We will also bring forward our overarching trees and woodlands strategy soon.

“There is work still to do in agreeing the detail of how we manage Sheffield’s street trees now and on an ongoing basis. Over the next few weeks we will invite further scrutiny of our proposals from stakeholders, before we then open a wider public conversation about our next steps.”

During the television interview, Mr Brooke of STAG said: “It’s been constructive talks, we haven’t managed to reach an agreement over everything and still have work to do.

“We now want to go and do more scrutiny on the proposals but we welcome the fact fewer trees are going to be felled. We are happier than we were a few weeks ago.”

STAG later issued a statement from Mr Brooke, and co-chairman Chris Rust, saying: “Sheffield Council have made a statement on TV news indicating that they have a plan for future tree fellings but giving no details.

“STAG has been in confidential discussions with Sheffield Council over the past four weeks. We continue to explore possible plans with Sheffield Council and are committed to doing everything we can to help resolve this painful dispute between citizens and council.

“However STAG has not, and cannot, approve any plan from Sheffield Council. It is down to the many tree campaigners and campaign groups to decide for themselves and we have no mandate to make agreements on their behalf.

“We will seek to give Sheffield Council the best advice we can on how any plan may be received.”

Since 2012 about 5,500 trees have been cut down under the council’s felling and replacement contract aimed at improving roads and footpaths.