Expert opinion on Sheffield Street Trees


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Jeremy Barrell in Sheffield with tree campaigners in Meersbrook and taking a welcome break from the rain and chill wind courtesy of a cup of tea from Jan Turner!

On Thursday 14th January, the article by Jeremy Barrell, which follows below, was published in Horticulture Week. Jeremy is a leading arboricultural consultant.

If you have never heard of this publication, imagine the most popular women’s magazine in the UK. Well, this magazine is the equivalent for landscape professionals & workers. It is arguably THE biggest trade publication in the sector. Every good workplace is likely to have a copy. Every horticultural/agricultural college will have a copy in their library (forever).

As Techno states, Sheffield City Council’s incompetence is now on record. Here goes:

Barrell on……….Residents let down by tree loss in Sheffield, 14th January 2016, by Jeremy Barrell,”

I heard that more than 1,000 street trees had been felled over four months in Sheffield, with many more for the chop in 2016, so I visited to see for myself.

It sounded bad, but the reality was beyond belief — managers blatantly disregarding community views and a failure to factor tree value into highway decision-making. I saw evidence of many high-value trees recently removed with dubious justification, residents being consulted after felling, extreme interpretations of the risk to people and infrastructure, decades of life left in trees scheduled for removal and irreplaceable heritage trees under threat.

All this was made worse by poor communication between the residents, the city council and its private finance initiative (PFI) partner, Amey, the company carrying out the felling as part of a street “improvement” programme. It seems to have been decreed that trees causing any damage to infrastructure or inconvenience to highway maintenance will not be tolerated. Perhaps understandable in the past, but such lame justification for mass felling in this modern age of feasible solutions is no longer credible.

The multiple benefits of trees are well documented, with London’s i-Tree canopy valuation confirming and quantifying the importance of existing trees.

It is unusual for ordinary people to take to the streets protesting over trees, but it is happening in Sheffield. In November, 400 residents attended a rally to voice dissent about tree loss and last week more than 100 people turned out on a wet Saturday morning to support a single tree.

In this case, it was an elm tree that survived the ravages of Dutch elm disease only to be tagged for removal because of “highway damage. Something is seriously wrong in Sheffield and any other British cities considering entering into a PFI agreement would be well advised to take a closer look at how not to do it.”



Jeremy Barrell with Rob McBride – ‘The Tree Hunter’ in Sheffield

And more from SORT –

Dear Supporter

Time is fast running out and your help is needed:

–       Save Nether Edge Trees petition need to reach 5,000, by around 22 January, if the petition is to be heard by full Council on 3 Feb.  You can help by joining for an hour or so, the Nether Edge campaign who will be doing a petition stall from 11am -3pm this Saturday, outside the Town Hall.  The petition table will be in front of the Town Hall or within easy spotting distance near the Peace Gardens.  Calvin Payne will keep an eye out for newcomers.  Weather: sunny but cold.  You can also help by spreading the Save NE Trees petition link:

–       Buy or sell SORT fundraising raffle tickets (£1 per ticket; 5 tickets per book).  Quality prizes galore including champagne, Bradfield Brewery mini keg, family ticket to Steelers, 2 x Sunshine Stone baked take away pizza, 1hr massage and more!  Raffle draw: Tues 3 Feb.   For raffle tickets, please email:

 –       Help SORT reach the magic number of 15,000 petition signatures (we are presently at 14,955) by spreading our petition link:

Thank you.

Save Our Roadside Trees


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12 Responses to Expert opinion on Sheffield Street Trees

  1. Technotronic says:


    I don’t know if you noticed, but there was a piece in this week’s Sheffield Telegraph (p.3) about a SHU conference, in Sheffield, on 16th April, to “debate” the future of Sheffield’s heritage. It listed the various components of Sheffield’s heritage and mentioned parks. However, NO mention whatsoever of street trees (or woodlands). Trees are often taken for granted, by EVERYONE. The common attitude (which firmly belongs to a bygone era, in light of the findings of a great amount of scientific research over the past 25yrs) is that you can just grow another. However, for SHU to forget to mention trees, given all that has happened over the past seven months, really is ridiculous.

    • Not one I have come across but I suppose it depends who is organising it and what ‘heritage’ they are considering. Did it say who the conference is run by – SHU is presumably just the venue?? It may not be SHU – as we have lots of events by external organisations.

      Anyway, let me know and I will find out what I can.


      • Technotronic says:

        Yes – at the university. Brian Holmshaw is Chair of the conference Steering Committee. The telegraph gave the impression that all types of heritage would be covered, but no mention of trees. 😦

        Forgotten again! >_<

      • According to the internet, Brian Holmshaw. Brian is a museum and heritage education consultant with ten years’ experience, working mainly in Yorkshire and the Northwest of England – so not SHU but external. He appears to be a specialist in buildings and built heritage – and hence the theme of the conference.

        Chair, Heritage Conference Year of Making, Sheffield 2016
        Chair of Steering Committee, Year of Making 2016. Organising heritage conference in Sheffield in April 2016. Strands include built heritage, heritage and identity, creating a heritage policy for the city and heritage and business.

        – Maybe worth asking for living / green heritage to be included?

        However, on 8th October at Grenoside we are hosting our second ‘Action for Woods & Trees’ event – so tree heritage will figure big in that!


      • Technotronic says:

        Well, urban trees are part of the built environment. Any person in favour of felling all trees or any trees will remind people of this. The built environment is – or at least should be – designed, so is what people make it. Trees are included for many reasons. As a component of the built environment, and as many trees are nearly as old as the buildings (in some cases older), and were planted to complement them, or at least soften harsh features, they are every bit a part of our built heritage – certainly as much as parks, in my opinion.

  2. Technotronic says:


    There was no “debate” last time (1st July), even though SORT distributed a very detailed hand-out to every Councillor, prior to the meeting, to encourage informed debate about relevant matters:

  3. outsider2 says:

    Please don’t run away with the wrong idea about the Heritage Conference on 16 April. It’s part of the Joined-Up Heritage strand of Sheffield’s Year of Making 2016, Our press notice that announced the event specifically referred to parks, cemeteries and green spaces as part of Sheffield’s heritage. We want to work towards a heritage strategy that embraces all facets of heritage. Check out the Facebook page from next week to see the major themes of the event and to find out how to book.

    • Perhaps worth contacting me directly at SHU to see how natural heritage and historic landscape features can be integrated into this. There is a lot of concern ‘out there’ that trees, woods, and the history of the region (the city and its countryside) are being damaged irreparably. My immediate response to concerns raised was that there are many sorts of ‘heritage’ so it is a broad church, and the natural heritage may not be directly relevant to the specific event. However, if natural heritage and living history or landscape history are relevant to this event……then we should be involved. Certainly, if the plan is to develop a city-wide ‘heritage strategy’ then I am surprised that I have not been contacted so far.


  4. Technotronic says:


    “Strategy bid to make the most of Sheffield’s heritage”

    Read more:

    “A group of 20 organisations who want to promote the city’s history believe an over-arching strategy could boost visitor numbers to Sheffield and potentially bring in funding for projects worth millions of pounds.

    Brian Holmshaw, chair of the conference steering committee, said: “The idea is about increasing local, regional and national awareness of the Sheffield area’s heritage, its stories, its sites and its assets, to bring people to the city and to make a positive contribution to the visitor economy.

    The 20-strong group behind the conference, called JOINED UP HERITAGE, formed just over a year ago.

    Members include various Friends groups, including those concerned with Wincobank Hill and the Sheaf Valley Park behind the railway station.”

    Again, no mention of Sheffield’s valuable treescape: a valuable heritage element that is frequently unrecognised, underappreciated and unvalued, even though it is significant component of green infrastructure, with a vital role to play in contributing to quality, liveability, amenity and adaptability to climate change.

    Even the Town & Country Planning Act recognises the heritage value of trees in the built environment.

    I’m NOT impressed! >__<

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