Sheffield Shock

10 April 2018 | By Rob McBride
Photo by: Rob McBride

Close to 6,000 (mainly healthy) mature, large canopy street trees have been felled in Sheffield over the last five years as part of the 25 year, £2.2 billion (€2.5 billion) Public Finance Initiative (PFI) contract between Sheffield City Council & Amey PLC. The Streets Ahead Project aims to resurface many of the city’s worn out roads and pavements. The trees, however, are of great value to the surrounding communities and clashes have emerged with local government and police over the removal of these natural staples.

The pavements of Sheffield may not be paved with gold, but are beautifully lined with the lush greenery from around 36,000 street trees that provide numerous aesthetic and environmental benefits. Some were even planted as official War Memorials such as Western Road, dedicated to the local WWI war heroes who attended the nearby school before they grew up and were sent off to their untimely deaths one hundred years ago.

Photo by: Rob McBride

Recent events from 9th March 2018 whereby Sheffield City Council was ordered to release a small section from the ‘commercially sensitive’, hardly seen contract has indicated that they secretly planned to cut down over 17,500 of the city’s street trees over the life of the contract.

As you can imagine, this has caused much uproar (and rightfully so). It fuels the fire in an already tense situation on the streets of the city, where 72-year-old grannies have been arrested in their night clothes in the early hours of the morning for peacefully standing in front of their beloved street trees. More recently, private security guards aided by South Yorks Police have been forcing many elderly, peaceful tree protectors to ever more desperate tactics to try to save their Trees In Need. Rob McBride, joint founder of TREEspect, has been actively working to bring attention to the heedless felling.

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