Now Sheffield tree programme threatens UK's second longest avenue of limes

THE SECOND longest avenue of limes in the UK has emerged as the next likely battleground in Sheffield's campaign to cull hundreds of roadside trees.

Rivelin Valley Road in Sheffield

The council’s roads maintenance contractor, Amey, is locked in dispute with communities across the city over its plans to fell trees on scores of leafy roads.

The controversy came to national prominence in November when a convoy of tree surgeons escorted by police arrived at Rustlings Road, in the leafy suburb of Endcliffe, in a dawn raid compared by local MP and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to “something you’d expect to see in Putin’s Russia”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Two pensioners were arrested in the subsequent protests and the council later apologised, promising not to employ the same tactics again.

But the dispute is far from over, with residents living near a range of other threatened trees saying they were still concerned they would be woken by the sound of chainsaws.

Rivelin Valley Road is different from many other streets involved in the controversy because, apart from its first 100 metres, it is not a residential area.

When the road was built in 1907 by the local water company it was lined for three-and-a-half miles by 700 lime trees which are now said to form the second longest avenue in the UK, after one in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.

A total of 31 trees are threatened as part of the city’s ongoing tree-felling programme, most now adorned with yellow ribbons and “save me” messages placed by campaigners who believe they are only being targeted to make Amey’s road resurfacing work easier and cheaper.

Local protester Rebecca Hammond said that the plan, if it went ahead, would create two clear gaps in the avenue.

Ms Hammond said: “The visual impact will be humongous.”

She said local people had been told that most of the trees would be felled because the roots may be damaged when the road was resurfaced.

“That’s a bit like saying I might graze my finger and it might go septic so I’m going to amputate my hand now. That’s lazy and unacceptable,” Ms Hammond said.

The dispute has its roots in a 25-year-private finance initiative, reported to be worth £2bn, which the council signed with Amey in 2009. It includes a huge ongoing programme to resurface thousands of miles of Sheffield’s pothole-ridden roads.

People living near Rivelin Valley Road are awaiting a report from an independent panel on the future of the trees.