Please also see our Street Tree Updates.
Our CEO Liz Ballard is chair of Sheffield’s Street Tree Strategy Group which published a draft Street Tree Working Strategy on 11 March 2020. Developed by Sheffield City Council and Amey with ourselves, local partners and communities from across the city, the strategy aims to deliver an agreed, partnership approach to the maintenance of Sheffield’s Street Trees over the next 20 years. Click here for more details.
We have regularly met with various representatives from Sheffield City Council and Amey over the last five years, including Cllr Bryan Lodge, Cllr Terry Fox and most recently Cllr Lewis Dagnall as well as officers of both organisations. An example of a letter to Cllr Bryan Lodge can be found here and his reply (which took 3 months!).
We have also met and spoken with residents and protesters, some of whom are involved in STAG.
We particularly focus on issues of wildlife and natural environment concern, including whether the Council has given regard to the NERC Act duty under Section 40, specifically:
(1) Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.
(3) Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.”
We have taken legal counsel and considered legal action in relation to the future of the Chelsea Road elm tree, which supports a colony of s41 priority species – the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly, as an example of the contravention of the NERC Act s40 by the Council, and to illustrate our concerns about the wider tree felling programme. Please see our letter to Sheffield City Council’s solicitor which provides an overview here.
As a result of potential legal action, the Council began to discuss options with us for the future of the Chelsea Road elm tree. In February 2018 we negotiated an agreement between Sheffield City Council and the Save Nether Edge Trees group which enabled a more sympathetic approach to management of the Chelsea Road elm tree and mitigation of the impact on the associated White-letter Hairstreak colony.
Following this, the tree was carefully pruned on 23 February 2018, when we examined the resulting cuttings for White-letter Hairstreak butterfly eggs (see photo of volunteers inspecting branches above). Two eggs were found, which were relocated and believed to have successfully hatched in nearby Chelsea Park. The small number of eggs found is due the majority of the colony remains within the tree canopy. The tree is no longer scheduled for felling although it will be reviewed regularly.
We have spoken at a number of street tree rallies and events in Sheffield over the course of the last 2-3 years. We were invited by STAG to Sheffield’s first Street Tree Festival on Saturday 29th September, where our Chief Executive Liz Ballard presented copies of The Lost Words book by Robert Macfarlane to local schools – a very successful campaign organised by STAG and supported by ourselves.
In September 2017 we met with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss the street trees issue and visited a number of threatened trees with him. Following the meeting, we exchanged letters with Mr Gove MP about further steps and the Government’s proposals for a duty on Local Authorities to consult about proposed street tree felling.
We are on the Forestry Commission’s Forest and Woodlands Area Committee for Yorkshire and the National Urban Forest Committee. We have publicly and robustly voiced our concerns about the Council and Amey’s approach to felling, such as the felling of trees on Rustlings Road, in the early hours of the morning accompanied by the police.
Previously we sat on the panel of the Sheffield City Council Tree Forum (not to be confused with the Independent Tree Panel) but this only met twice and was then disbanded. We suggested engineering solutions and further sources of information to Sheffield City Council whilst part of the panel.