Sheffield vs Aarhus

I have only visited Sheffield once when I was 19. It was in late autumn and I remember clearly walking the tree lined avenues with the crunching leaves beneath my feet and that wonderful smell of leaf litter, so evocative in a city.

Sheffield lost its claim to being the ‘greenest city in Europe’ based on tree to people ratio a while ago to Amsterdam. Such an enviable claim was surely worth pursuing and not many extra trees were needed to reclaim the crown. Instead, Sheffield has embarked on an unbelievable crusade against its trees. The images are truly shocking:

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Image from Rob McBride aka The Treehunter

Whatever the reasons for felling – one thing is apparent; that the consultation process was lacking, considerably.

The text of the Aarhus convention is far from ambiguous (and its not as though Sheffield City Council are unaware of the convention!):

‘Each Party shall make appropriate practical and/or other provisions for
the public to participate during the preparation of plans and programmes
relating to the environment, within a transparent and fair framework, having provided the necessary information to the public.’
Then there is the European Landscape Convention, ratified by the UK:
‘Acknowledging that the landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas;’
Have Sheffield Council decided to simply plough on with a hope that no-one notices? As the campaign against the tree felling increases this adds considerably more cost for everyone. Which given the current financial climate for many seems wholly unfair to Sheffield locals.

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3 Comments

Filed under Trees and Woodlands

3 responses to “Sheffield vs Aarhus

  1. Ash

    I’ve clicked above to “like” but I really don’t like this news. It seems that everyone in any position of authority whether it’s council officers or government or its agencies, work with their ears & eyes closed! I am now aged 65 & retired & there are moments now when I feel that no one in “public life” can be trusted! Not one!

  2. Anna Pethen

    I was born in Sheffield and proud to live here still. I love this city. In the area in which me and my partner live, when you walk on the hilly streets and look across, you see a forest. But what will happen to that view now the trees are rapidly disappearing? I find this “crusade against its trees”, as you so aptly describe it, incredibly upsetting. The reasons they give are arbitrary, subject to constant change and not based on expert knowledge. Amey (the private contractors carrying out the “improvements”) do not care about trees or this city – they want to make a profit. And the council – who we elected and who are supposed to work for us – is allowing them to profit on our taxes and on our cities environmental decline. Then the council have the audacity to rebrand Sheffield as “The Outdoor City”. I understand councils in the UK are under huge pressure due to government cuts but this is all just so wrong. Thank you for your coverage – I hope it makes a difference. There are a great many people here fighting for our trees and we are being fobbed off and brushed aside. Rest assured we’re not giving them up without a fight and will turn this around… Even if we have to replant all the trees ourselves.

  3. chrisrust

    I am a Sheffield resident. I live in a street where 10 of 11 healthy 100 year old Lime Trees are to be felled to make life easier for street maintenance. (Ladysmith Avenue, see the trees on Google Streetview here https://goo.gl/maps/NkPYizafgn92)

    These are magnificent trees and it will take 30 years or more for new ones to grow to anything like the size, longer to properly replace the canopy we have today.

    The local government have finally started a consultation process (having already felled thousands of street trees across the city) but it is neither transparent or fair. The letter we received said that they would review the fellings “If the majority of the responses (more than 50% of the households on your street) received do not agree with plans…”

    It will be immediately clear that “the majority of the responses received” is not the same as “more than 50% of households”. The consultation only allows one response from each house, so three people living together have the same vote as one person living alone, and people living nearby, who may have an equal interest in these trees, get no say.

    But to say that objections from a minority will not be reviewed is blatant discrimination. And if they really mean 50% of households, then every abstention is counted as a vote against a review, which is blatant vote-rigging. Our local councillor, Nikki Bond, was elected with 18% of the possible votes (quite normal) but she expects us to get more than 50%.

    Apart from blatant disregard for our street environment, this all shows a shocking disregard for democracy. And although conspiracy theories abound, it all smacks of straighforward incompetence. Too many time servers applying too little brain power.

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