The new approach, designed to see fewer trees felled with more engineering solutions deployed by the council’s highways contractor Amey, has been developed following talks over the past two months with campaigners who have all along had a simple aim; to end what they saw as the unnecessary removal of thousands of healthy mature trees that lined their neighbourhoods.
Campaigners have given the proposals a cautious welcome but there is disappointment that calls for an inquiry into the council decisions which led to this point have been rejected. However, an ongoing investigation by the Forestry Commission into the felling work already been carried out may soon answer at least some of the many outstanding questions about how this situation was allowed to unfold. Sheffield Council cabinet member for environment Lewis Dagnall deserves credit for his work in recent months in bringing about potential reconciliation after inheriting a situation which had spiralled out of control into multiple arrests, repeated court battles and huge drains on police time – all at considerable cost to the public purse.
After the bitter battles of the recent past, it is no surprise there is caution about how this new approach will actually work in practice. But for now, it is to be hoped that a new leaf has genuinely been turned.