Save Sheffield's Trees

by Dave Dillner

Save Sheffield's Trees

by Dave Dillner

Stop the Felling of Mature Highway Trees in Sheffield

Funded
on 04th February 2016
£16,669
pledged by 599 people

Stop the Felling of Mature Highway Trees in Sheffield

UPDATE: 16 SEPTEMBER 2016

Since my previous update letting you know the outcome of the court case, and the costs awarded to SCC and Amey, several people have been in touch with me via Crowd Justice to ask how they can donate to any shortfall that there is. The crowdfunding has now been re-opened in order to allow those who wish to, to make a contribution to the shortfall.

We need to raise an additional £2,000 to cover the costs awarded – I thank you wholeheartedly for these contributions, as with all the others you have made. 

Work to save Sheffield's mature trees continues. Current actions are stepping up Non-Violent Direct Action, which has had success in saving some trees, and ramping up the media aspect of the campaign as the end of the nesting season approaches. The latest raft of survey letters to residents of streets where trees have been targeted for felling has been sent out, and local groups are working hard to raise awareness of the importance of participating in the survey process, and getting trees referred to the Independent Tree Panel. I am many others remain committed to trying to make Sheffield City Council see that the felling of mature trees to make way for roadside words is unnecessary, when they could easily be saved by alternative engineering solutions, and resisted by a large number of Sheffield residents.

Sheffield is known as one of the greenest cities in Europe. We're proud of our city and we're a great example to other cities in the UK and Europe. 

But this is now under threat! 50% of Sheffield’s mature street trees may be at risk of felling.  

Many of these trees are healthy, have decades of useful service left and are often being removed for causing damage to pavements rather than for health problems of the tree itself.

We've tried all channels open to us to get a dialogue going with Sheffield City Council, but they're not listening to us. As a last resort, we're taking legal action to save our trees. 

 


Why are they cutting down our trees? 

Between August 2012 and January 2016, over 3,500 trees were  felled across the city. 

Now 50% of the city's mature roadside trees - over 18, 000 trees - are in danger of being cut down. 

After 30 years of community consultation and agreements on Sheffield’s street trees, the City Council has recently entered into a contract with Amey plc, a large infrastructure provider, for the maintenance of the city's highways, including the roadside trees.  Instead of maintaining our trees where they can, SCC and Amey has seemingly chosen to cut down mature, healthy trees. Here's a taste of what their approach to trees could result in: 



Of course some trees will have to go – this would be normal maintenance and gradual replacement. But 50% of our trees are in danger, and that's too many!  

Amey claim that their replacement programme will make up for the loss of the city's mature trees. This is widely contested. The small ornamental trees that are being planted cannot replace the city's mature trees and the environmental benefits of the mature trees cannot be matched in decades, if ever. One mature tree absorbs 50kg of Carbon every year (for an average mature tree 1 meter in diameter), a sapling absorbs 1/50th of that rate.

Why are we so passionate about our trees? 

We need environmental protection NOW. The recent catastrophic flooding in the north of England is an unfortunate consequence of our changing climate. Trees play a huge role in offsetting pollution and in protecting us from climate change, including flooding. Trees are good for our physical and mental well-being. We have these benefits NOW with our mature street trees, and that's the way we want to keep it.



Our trees are so precious, they deserve engineering solutions to be used around them along pavements - they do not deserve to be ripped out of the ground. The driver of these decisions should NOT be Amey's profit margins. These are OUR trees, SHEFFIELD’S trees, NOT the trees of a multinational company.


Why we're going all the way to court 

We've signed petitions (over 20,000 of us!), we've met with city councillors, written to them, asked for clarity about the tree strategy from them, presented evidence to them, asked for proper consultations with them. We've held rallies. We have asked them to stop felling trees until a proper tree strategy for the long-term maintenance and preservation of the city's trees is in place. We have been petitioning them for over 8 months.

All routes have been investigated to enter into a reasonable dialogue with Sheffield City Council, and now as a last resort, we must turn to legal action. A Judicial Review is the only thing that can put a stop to this. Together we can make Sheffield City Council and Amey stop cutting down our trees until we have a proper tree strategy.

We are looking to the council to:

  • halt all tree felling until a Judicial Review has been undertaken
  • implement a tree strategy to ensure an open, honest & consistent approach across the city
  • ensure that tree assessments are balanced, independent, proportionate & not unduly influenced by corporate profits

We demand a proper environmental impact assessment of the Streets Ahead programme.

How much are we raising and what is it for? 

We have a top legal team – Charles Streeten, of Francis Taylor Building, instructed by the Environmental Law Foundation. 

These top lawyers are working for us pro bono. However, I need to cover the risks of the costs if we lose, as well as court fees. So I'm raising £5,000 (and £11,000 as a stretch target, to cover any additional fees) and we would ask for your support. 

If you care about Sheffield trees, pledge to help! If you care about city trees all over the UK, pledge to help!

It could be your city trees next! 


About the claimant

I am Dave Dillner and I have lived in Sheffield since 1987. I have been a lover of nature all my life and what has always enthralled me about Sheffield is the number of magnificent street trees that until recently have adorned the city.I became involved as a campaigner when a bus lane was proposed to pass close by a much valued local amenity, namely Heeley City Farm, that would have resulted in the loss of 129 mature healthy trees. I organised a protest movement against the scheme which achieved a measure of success in so far as the scheme was "shelved" for a minimum period of two years.At this time, lots of local campaigns started to form, starting from the Rustlings Road campaign and I recognised the need to unite and formed Sheffield Tree Action Group as an umbrella group to bring the groups together. STAG is a very active community, with a lively website, facebook group, and lots of other things. We've succeeded in putting real pressure on SCC and are determined to carry on until we save our roadside trees! Visit our site to learn more about our campaign: http://savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/

Fast facts

I am raising £5,000 to cover the court fees and the adverse costs of the case, if we do not win. Many residents and members of various campaign groups have invested their own funds and time over the last few months in fighting this, but we now need more help to take this forward. Our barrister is Charles Streeten, of Francis Taylor Building. He is instructed by the Environmental Law Foundation, and he and other legal advice are working on this case on a Pro-Bono basis.

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Update 8

Dave Dillner

Sept. 16, 2016

Funding re-opened

Since my previous update letting you know the outcome of the court case, and the costs awarded to SCC and Amey, several people have been in touch with me via Crowd Justice to ask how they can donate to any shortfall that there is. The crowdfunding has now been re-opened in order to allow those who wish to, to make a contribution to the shortfall. We need to raise an additional £2,000 to cover the costs awarded. I thank you wholeheartedly for these contributions, as with all the others you have made.

Work to save Sheffield's mature trees continues. Current actions are stepping up Non-Violent Direct Action, which has had success in saving some trees, and ramping up the media aspect of the campaign as the end of the nesting season approaches. The latest raft of survey letters to residents of streets where trees have been targeted for felling has been sent out, and local groups are working hard to raise awareness of the importance of participating in the survey process, and getting trees referred to the Independent Tree Panel. I am many others remain committed to trying to make Sheffield City Council see that the felling of mature trees to make way for roadside words is unnecessary, when they could easily be saved by alternative engineering solutions, and resisted by a large number of Sheffield residents.


Update 7

Dave Dillner

July 31, 2016

Bad News

At an oral submission on 27th July 2016, the appeal was dismissed, and costs of £15 000 have been awarded to SCC and Amey, despite this being an Aarhus case. Deeply disappointed, but the case has won a reprieve for many trees, and shone a light on SCC and Amey handling of Sheffield's mature street trees. Concerned residents are not going away, and continue to hold SCC and Amey accountable. The fight to save Sheffield's mature highway trees will continue by other means.  Huge thanks to all supporters of this case. 

Update 6

Dave Dillner

May 13, 2016

Appeal lodged

The appeal against the High Court's decision has now been lodged, just as Sheffield City Council has resumed felling healthy mature trees on the streets of Sheffield. Residents are turning to Non-Violent Direct Action in order to save the  trees,  and continue to try to convince the Council to take a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach and to use alternative solutions. So-called 'replacement' trees for trees already felled have been vandalised and destroyed across the city.  To SCC and Amey, I say "Let the mature trees continue to offer the city a huge range of eco services, don't trust this only to the unpredictable future of young and vulnerable newly planted trees." The legal team continues to back Sheffield trees all the way, putting in a huge amount of work on their behalf. I thank them, and everyone who has backed me.    

Update 5

Dave Dillner

April 27, 2016

Going forward to appeal!

Disappointingly, the Court decided to refuse permission for judicial review and  to dismiss my claim to protect the trees of Sheffield due to the budget implications for the PFI contract and the Council and PFI investors. The legal team and I will be  appealing the decision to the Court of Appeal before the end of the week on the basis the judge erred as matter of law on the grounds raised in my case. The grounds of appeal are being formulated to deal with the inordinate length of the judgement on what in fact in the claimant's view were two very simple grounds of claim relating to the Council's failure to carry out a lawful consultation and the failure to conduct a full environmental assessment. In my view, supported by the arguments of my legal team, the Court has failed to uphold EU environmental law designed to impose strict obligations on authorities to ensure prior to taking damaging measures that the full environmental consequences and alternatives like flexi-paving are fully evaluated to reduce environmental damage.  Our battle continues. Thank you for your support, please continue to support us. 

Update 4

Dave Dillner

April 15, 2016

Still waiting for the verdict

We are not in the clear yet, we are stil waiting for the judgement. We’ll keep you updated and in the meanwhile please keep sharing. 

Update 3

Dave Dillner

March 23, 2016

Hearing in the High Court

The hearing took place at the Royal Courts of Justice on 22nd and 23rd March, before Judge Gilbart, who reserved judgment and indicated that an expedited judgment will be handed down in 10 days at beginning of April. Extremely disappointingly, the judge lifted the interim injunction on all tree felling. We are considering an appeal, even though Sheffield City Council have undertaken not to fell trees until the final verdict. We still have a huge fight on our hands to save our trees. Thank you for your continued generosity, please spread widely to help us save our trees and trees across UK cities! 

Update 2

Dave Dillner

March 17, 2016

We are re-opening our crowdfund!

The hearing for the judicial review in our ‘Save Sheffield’s Trees’ case has been listed for 22nd March to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in London.  Sheffield City Council, the defendant, and Amey, the interested party, (who signed a £2.2billion contract with the City) are strongly contesting the case saying they (the City) did not have a duty to consult local residents on the tree felling proposals and that there is no environmental harm from the proposed tree felling.


The Council and its contractor Amey have instructed a senior barristers and have lodged  huge quantities of documentation. It is plain that we have a fight on our hands but there is a huge disparity of resources! Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law and on board barrister Charles Streeten have stepped up to the plate and are making it possible for us to fight back by agreeing to work on a part conditional fee arrangement. We are re-opening the crowd funding on Friday 18 March so that we can try to cover their fees


Update 1

Dave Dillner

Feb. 9, 2016

Good news!

Sheffield trees have won a three month reprieve! Dave Dillner has been granted an interim injunction on tree felling until judicial review of Sheffield City Council’s refusal to stop felling until there has been a proper Environmental Impact Assessment and open and fair consultation. Even though this is a great victory for our trees, we are expecting a long battle. Please continue to support Save Sheffield trees!

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