The Sheffield Street Trees Campaign Grows as dissatisfaction comes to a head

The Sheffield Street Trees Campaign Grows as dissatisfaction comes to a head

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16 Responses to The Sheffield Street Trees Campaign Grows as dissatisfaction comes to a head

  1. Technotronic says:

    Save Our Rustlings Trees Campaigners (SORT) sent Cllr Fox another letter on 14th July, 2015. You can view a PDF version at:

    Background to the trees campaign:

    The only criticism I have of the letter in The Star dated 2/9/15 is that it states:

    “When it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they represented a trip hazard, an active campaign to challenge policy sprang in to action (SORT).”

    Actually, the SORT campaign really started when it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they caused damage. SORT Believed – as they still do – that engineering solutions could be used to retain trees and that alternative highway engineering specifications should be commissioned, draughted and used to safely retain existing trees, long-term (draughted by competent arboricultural consultants – preferably Chartered or approved by the Arboricultural Association – working in cooperation with competent highway engineers). It was after this that Fox & Streets Ahead started using the potential for slips trips and falls as a justification for felling.

    Thanks to FOI responses, we now know that no assessment criteria were used to assess the severity of damage (Response Ref: FOI / 493)or to assess hazard and risk of harm or injury (Response Ref: FOI / 423). The only criteria they had was the 6Ds. In reality, this is a list to aid highway tree inspectors, but it has variously been described as a “framework” (by Mr Symonds – Director of Amey, responsible for the improvement works across the city), a “strategy” (by Cllr Fox [Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport & self-appointed Chair of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum] & Cllr Dunn [Chair of Sheffield’s Green Commission – responsible for deciding a 25yr strategy for management of green infrastructure], a maintenance strategy (Streets Ahead), and a “policy” (Cllrs Fox, Dunn & Dore).

    Furthermore, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request response (Ref: FOI / 422) has indicated that neither Amey or SCC have more than one highways engineering specification for pavements and kerbs – the standard specification they use for all streets, regardless of whether trees are present or not – and that, to date, no alternative highway engineering specifications to enable tree retention have been commissioned or draughted for consideration.

  2. Technotronic says:


    BBC Four: Thursday 1 October 2015

    “In this 90-minute film for BBC Four, entomologist George McGavin studies one of the great icons of the British countryside – the oak tree.

    Throughout the year-long study George investigates the surprisingly sophisticated biology of the 400 year-old oak, learns how it has adapted to the ever-changing countryside and discovers how it became such an important part of British culture and history.

    Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor begins with the onset of autumn. George discovers how the tree senses and then prepares itself for the changing of the seasons. He excavates a tree to study the highly complex root system of an oak and finds out why the tree’s incredible ability to adapt to its environment made it the perfect wood for ship-building.

    The next chapter of the film is winter. To get a better sense of what the oak must endure during this season, George spends a night in the tree and learns how it almost goes into a state of hibernation – while providing shelter for several species of insects and animals in howling winds and sub-zero temperatures. He then discovers why oak was used to create some of the most remarkable architecture in the medieval world with a visit to Salisbury Cathedral.

    As spring begins, George sets up two solar powered cameras to capture the trees’ epic transformation throughout the season and discovers how pollen can be used to understand the history of the landscape over the last 12,000 years. He explores the weird world of gall wasps, tiny insects that genetically modify the tree to grow some of the most bizarre structures in the natural world and discovers how ink made from oak galls was used to record much of our history.

    In the final season, summer, George looks at the vast web of life that relies on the oak. Scaling the tree, he gathers a collection of insects to investigate under the microscope. He visits the largest collection of whisky in the world to see how the oaks wood gives whisky its unique flavour and looks back two billion years to see how the oak achieves its greatest feat – capturing energy from the sun.”

    BBC Four: Thursday 1 October 2015


  3. Technotronic says:


    Below is a copy of one completed “feedback” form submitted, by one attendee, on the day, following presentations to the Green Commission panel.

    Hearing 5, 18 June 2015
    Sheffield Town Hall


    Thank you for attending this event.
    You have heard tonight from 4 speakers: Julia Thrift, Will Mcbain, Nigel Dunnett and Robert Evans.

    Based on their presentations, we would be grateful if you could give your views as to what are the 3 most important points for the Green Commissioners to consider:

    1) Proper & adequate monetary valuation of the full range of ecosystem goods and services afforded to the built environment and its inhabitants by the city-wide tree population – the URBAN FOREST -, in particular, street trees (HIGHWAY TREES). Where this is not practicable, the PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE should, indeed MUST, be applied, as was agreed at the RIO EARTH SUMMIT in 1992 (Principle 15). European Directive 2001/42/EC requires use of this principle. See ARTICLE 174 OF THE TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY.

    2) Recognition of the city-wide tree population as an urban forest & the adoption of an appropriate TREE STRATEGY AS COUNCIL POLICY to guide & inform policies, management, specifications & practice, to ensure it is managed in a responsible & sustainable manner. The UK FORESTRY STANDARD states [that] the term forest is used to describe “land under stands of trees with a canopy cover of at least 20%”. The Standard & its Guidelines exist to implement international forest principles and criteria; they apply to all forests within the wider land-use context, “INCLUDING THE COLLECTIVE TREE & WOODLAND COVER IN URBAN AREAS”!

    3) Greater community education, consultation & participation, to the fullest extent as is reasonably practicable*, particularly with regard to management of the urban forest & its respective land use contexts: PARTICULARLY HIGHWAYS. The Government has signed up to the Arhus Convention (UNECE). Article 7 states: “Each party shall make appropriate practical &/or other provisions for the public to participate during the preparation of plans & programmes relating to the environment, within A TRANSPARENT & FAIR framework, having provided the necessary information to the public”.
    *AS RECOMMENDED BY “TREES IN TOWNS ll” (2008): a report commissioned by the ODPM!

    Your contribution is greatly appreciated, thank you. Please keep the tear-off slip below for your own information.
    If you would like the Commission to consider other written evidence, please use the call for evidence form on the Green Commission webpage at–performance/green-commission.html . This is a Word document that you can download, complete and email back to us on: . Your evidence will be considered by the Green Commission when making its recommendations. The final Hearing in public will take place on 30th June at the Town Hall. To request a place at this event please email .

    • Technotronic says:


      On Thursday 18th June, 2015, the “hearing” at the Town Hall was an opportunity for SCC’s Green Commission to hear evidence from real experts, with a view to developing a “long-term” 20yr strategy for management of Sheffield’s green infrastructure. THE FINDINGS OF THE COMMISSION ARE DUE TO BE PUBLISHED BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The strategy WILL be adopted as council policy & impact on tree management. It should be integrated with the tree strategy.

      The “hearing” took the form of various power-point presentations. There was precious little mention of the importance of trees. They really NEEDED a presentation from an arboriculturist.

      The hearing – with slideshows – is now available on Youtube:

      It is telling that there is no such commission, or hearings procedure, to inform the development of Sheffield’s first tree strategy, which is currently in the early stages of being draughted.

      • Technotronic says:

        Scroll along to the 31minute and 30seconds mark to hear Prof Nigel Dunnett.

        Prof Dunnett was one of the “experts” on the panel at Sheffield’s first Highway Trees Advisory Forum. Hear are some of the comments he made at the forum:

        “We are – we put ourselves across as – the greenest city in the country, if you count the number of trees and green spaces. We should be celebrating that and we should be going further than that, and we should be making ourselves different, which means that we should not just be doing the one for one, we should be doing the five to one is the point xxxx was making; it shouldn’t just be about replacing, it should be planting more, that’s my big issue…”

        “ …I think, what I would say is that we talk about trees, but all trees are not equal, and the most important trees are the mature trees and the big canopy trees. I can’t emphasize enough, in terms of future climate change and all the environmental benefits and biodiversity and so on, that we talked about, we need to be planting the biggest trees that we can possibly get in to the space, and we are not planning on keeping those that we have [claps]”.

        “…I think this point about we will replace one for one is perhaps a little bit of an easy option to say well, we can take trees out, but it is one for one but it is not like for like, and I think we know of many examples where big forest canopy trees have been replaced by puny little things that make no contribution to the future, so I think the strategy has to be absolutely ambitious, and I think that the actions that are taken need to tie in with a strategy, so I would also take on board the point of a moratorium or pause in the process, perhaps [claps].”

  4. Technotronic says:


    Cllr Dunn (Labour) is Chair of Sheffield’s Green Commission.

    “We are very lucky in Sheffield to live in the greenest and most wooded city in Britain. This means that our city is not only beautiful, but
    has enormous advantages in terms of FLOOD RESILIENCE,
    This hearing focussing on GREEN AND BLUE INFRASTRUCTURE will consider how Sheffield’s natural and planned assets can
    deliver ECONOMIC,
    SOCIAL outcomes for the city.”

    (Cllr Dunn, Chair of the Sheffield Green Commission, 8 June 2015)


    The “advantages” and “outcomes” to which Cllr Dunn makes reference include – in no small part – the range of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES afforded by the urban forest – the city-wide tree population – to the built environment and ALL its inhabitants. In cities where these have been valued, the provision of such services by trees has been found to be worth millions of pounds EACH YEAR!
    See link:

    • Technotronic says:


      At the “hearing”, commissioners did ask if anyone knew how a monetary value could be assigned to the aforementioned “advantages” and “outcomes”. Sadly, NOT A SINGLE PERSON present provided an answer. However, one of the experts did mention that businesses in London were prepared to spend on green infrastructure. On that basis, the expert concluded that there were financial benefits, because otherwise businesses would not spend.

      It is most disheartening that not a single “expert” present at the hearing appeared to be aware of any of the current methods for valuation. Of course businesses will spend – it raises their green credentials & improves their standing in the marketplace.

      You will find links to information on valuation on Stocksbridge Community Forum:

  5. Technotronic says:



    On 25th June, 2015, a copy of the SORT hand-out was submitted to the SCC Green Commission as “evidence” for consideration by the Commission. An amended version was submitted, on 29th of June, 2015. On 30th June, 2015, acting “for the Green Commission team”, Heather Stewart (SCC Project Officer: Capital Delivery Service department) confirmed acceptance of the document (a PDF) as “evidence”. The document submitted became the hand-out published in support of the Save Our Rustlings Trees (SORT) campaign (now known as Save Our Roadside Trees), which was distributed to EVERY COUNCILLOR on 26th JUNE, 2015, by the Sheffield City Council (SCC) Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department, prior to the meeting of full Council, in Sheffield Town Hall, on 1st July, 2015 (when the SORT petition was presented). You can access a copy of the hand out at:

    The SORT hand-out was later worked on and submitted to the Cabinet Member for Environment and transport (Cllr Terry Fox) as a letter, dated 14th July, 2015, by SORT. You can access a copy (“The SORT letter”) at:


    An e-mail received today…

    From: Stewart Heather []
    Sent: 24 February 2016 18:14
    To: McIntyre Duncan
    Subject: FW: Sheffield Green Commitment – Final report of the Sheffield Green Commission

    Dear Colleague,

    We are delighted to be sending you “Sheffield’s Green Commitment”, the final report of the Sheffield Green Commission as attached. Many, many thanks for all your contributions to the evidence-giving process. If you would like to respond as an individual or on behalf of your organisation we are running a public consultation through Sheffield City Council’s online portal “Citizen Space”, which can be accessed from the Council’s homepage at from Friday 26th February.

    Kind Regards,

    Heather Stewart, for the Green Commission Team

    Project Officer – Capital Delivery Service

    Sheffield City Council, Zone 1, Level 3, East Wing, Moorfoot, Sheffield S1 4PL

    Tel: 0114 2037139

  6. Technotronic says:


    The Council’s final report (attached above) detailing the Council’s commitment to the management of Sheffield’s green infrastructure will be published on Friday (it was supposed to be a strategy. It is not).


    “Sheffield has an enviable
    reputation as one of the
    greenest and most wooded
    cities in Europe. Sheffield has…
    more than 2 million trees, and
    greater woodland cover than any
    other city in Britain (over 10%).”

    “Why relevant to Sheffield?
    Sheffield is regarded as the
    greenest and most wooded
    city in Britain with more than
    1/3 of the city in the Peak
    District National Park. There
    is more woodland cover than
    any other city in Britain (over
    10%) and more than 2 million

    “Triple bottom line:

    Economic: Green space contributes to economic success
    by providing high quality urban environments to live, work
    and play in. The Crown Estate’s £1.5 billion investment in an
    ecology masterplan for the West End of London demonstrates
    that World Cities recognise the economic asset of quality urban
    green space. The £30m cost of the 2007 floods to Sheffield
    creates the business case for investment in flood resilience
    through green and blue infrastructure.

    Health/Social: Green and Blue infrastructure can reduce
    emissions and improve air quality; contribute to sustainable
    urban cooling and heatwave mitigation; improve physical health
    including reducing body mass index and obesity; improve
    mental wellbeing; increase longevity; reduce isolation, reduce
    health inequalities and increase social cohesion.

    Environmental: Green and Blue Infrastructure provides
    ecosystems services for cities: flood resilience, climate
    adaptation (sustainable urban cooling/reduction of urban heat
    island effect); air quality mitigation and increasing biodiversity;
    CO2 sequestration.”

    The three components of this “Triple bottom line” are represented by a Venn diagram. Guess what label is attached to the centre of the diagram, where all three circles overlap: “SUSTAINABLE”!

  7. Technotronic says:



    “At the Second Ministerial Conference, held in Helsinki in 1993, ministers adopted Resolution H1, which included the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) definition of sustainable forest management:

    ‘the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands
    in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their
    biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality
    and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future,
    relevant ecological, economic and social functions,
    at local, national, and global levels, and
    that does not cause damage to other ecosystems’.”
    (Forestry Commission, 2011, p. 93)

    SORT understand that, by a definition agreed by the United Nations, the collective tree and woodland cover of Sheffield (excluding parks) does constitute a forest (Treeconomics, 2015a).
    “The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been assessing the world’s forest resources at regular intervals. Its Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) are based on data provided by individual countries, using AN AGREED GLOBAL DEFINITION OF FOREST which includes a minimum threshold for the height of trees (5 m), at least 10 per cent crown cover (canopy density determined by estimating the area of ground shaded by the crown of the trees) and a minimum forest area size (0.5 hectares). Urban parks, orchards and other agricultural tree crops are excluded from this definition.”
    (Achard, 2009, p. 7)

  8. Technotronic says:


    “The term forest is used to describe land predominately covered in trees (defined as land under stands of trees with a canopy cover of at least 20%)”

    “The UKFS and Guidelines encompass the entire forest
    environment, which may include open areas, water bodies
    such as rivers, lakes and ponds, and shrub species in
    addition to the trees themselves.

    They apply to the
    planning and management of forests within the wider
    landscape and land-use context, and to all UK forest types
    and management systems, INCLUDING THE COLLECTIVE TREE

    “In assessing whether the Requirements
    have reasonably been met, the overall balance of benefits
    or ecosystem services will be taken into account.”


    The term forest is used to describe land predominately covered in
    trees (defined as land under stands of trees with a canopy
    cover of at least 20%), whether in large tracts (generally
    called forests) or smaller areas known by a variety of terms
    (including woods, copses, spinneys or shelterbelts).”

  9. Technotronic says:

    (published on 16th September 2015)

    This is the unedited version. The bits that The Star edited out appear between square brackets.

    – A Response to Louise Haigh MP

    “On 2nd Sept, as the second meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum took place, with reference to the felling of Sheffield’s highway trees, the BBC announced: “…there are another 2,000 TO BE cut down THIS YEAR, so far.”

    No wonder residents are upset! As SORT point out in their >13,000 signature petition, our highway trees are key component of Sheffield’s green infrastructure; a valuable asset that make a significant contribution to our health and well-being, not least of all through their beauty and our pleasure of its enjoyment (amenity value), reducing health problems and associated NHS costs.

    In response to MP Louise Haigh’s question about the basis for opposition to the current five years of city-wide felling programme, the basis is set out in the Save our Roadside Trees (SORT) letter addressed to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July, 2015*. The basis was and is also detailed in the SORT hand-out that was distributed to every Councillor on 26th June, 2015, by the Council’s Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department. Ms Haigh received a copy of the latter on 25th June, and again on 1st July, 2015. Both documents are accessible online, via Stocksbridge Community Forum (News section).

    Any city-wide felling programme that lacks a strategic, planned, systematic and integrated approach and that fails to involve communities [(THROUGH A PROGRAMME THAT ENABLES EDUCATION, CONSULTATION AND PARTICIPATION)] is likely to attract criticism from every quarter.

    The city-wide felling programme will drastically reduce the number of large-crowned trees along our streets, having significant negative impact on the shape, size and distribution of canopy cover along highways, and on the range, magnitude and value of associated ecosystem goods and services afforded by these trees [TO THE ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNITIES AND ALL LIVING THINGS].

    Sheffield’s urban forest IS defined by its canopy cover, according to the Government’s own policy: The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management. The standard exists to implement forestry policy and forestry principles and criteria set by the international community. It requires “stewardship and use…in a way and at a rate that maintains…their POTENTIAL to fulfil, NOW and in the future, relevant ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC and SOCIAL functions, at local…levels….”

    These “functions” are the ecosystem goods and services include those that the SORT petition mentioned. Other cities have had these valued and found them to be worth millions of pounds each year.

    SORT Submitted the following Freedom of information (FOI) request (Ref: FOI / 423) on 06/07/2015: “Under the FOI act, I request a copy of the risk assessment for the trees that are proposed to be felled on Rustlings Road please.” A response was received on 22/7/2015:


    SORT also submitted another FOI request (Ref: FOI / 493) on 18/07/2015: “Under the FOI act, I request to see the assessment criteria and completed assessments that led to the decision to fell trees causing pavement ridging on Rustlings Road.” A response was received on 7/8/2015:

    “The assessment criteria are as set out on the Council’s website.”

    At that time all that we could find (as now) is the now infamous 6Ds policy that Cllr Fox claimed, at the meeting of full council on 1/7/2015, was the city’s tree strategy, presented in its entirety.

    The Acts of Parliament that the Council quote only place a duty on the Council to that which is reasonable, in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES of the case.

    SORT Believe that, in fulfilment of this duty, it would be prudent and reasonable for the Council to adopt APPROPRIATE, ADEQUATE, BALANCED ASSESSMENTS TO INFORM DECISIONS and help ensure that they are DEFENDABLE.

    We believe this would help ensure a sustainable approach and HELP TEMPER A DESTRUCTIVE, RISK-AVERSE APPROACH, provided assessments are undertaken BY COMPETENT PEOPLE using current, widely recognised and accepted, appropriate methods. It would also help ensure that decisions that are based on sound evidence and not unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions [, WHETHER FORMED BY THE MEDIA, LOBBY GROUPS OR VESTED INTERESTS].

    SORT Are grateful to all supporters, especially The Star, for helping to highlight the urgent need for a strategic approach to the management of OUR urban forest, for the benefit of ALL and future generations.”


    The SORT letter referred to can be accessed via the Sheefied Tree Action Groups Website, using the following link:

    The Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) petition hand-out that was published in support of the Save Our Rustlings Trees campaign, on 25th June, 2015. The hand-out was distributed to every Councillor in Sheffield, by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources), on 26th June 2015, prior to Council “debate” of the SORT petition on Wednesday 1st July, 2015. The original document was 27 pages. Prior to distribution SORT made amendments and added two more pages. The hand-out is available from SORT or STAG.

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