Roadside Tree Felling in Sheffield, UK

Since Sheffield County Council contracted the private company Amey to maintain the city's streets, approximately 5,500 trees have been felled. Residents have campaigned to protect their trees, and are concerned by the lack of democratic process.


Since Sheffield County Council contracted the company Amey to maintain the city's streets, approximately 5,500 trees have been felled as part of the “Streets Ahead” scheme[1].  The £2.2billion 25 year Private Financing Initiative was signed by the council in 2012, giving Amey responsibility over highways maintenance in what is renowned as the greenest city in Europe. Residents and supporters have campaigned and taken action against the felling of healthy trees,  concerned about the loss of health and ecological benefits, the loss of the cultural value of the trees, and the undemocratic, corporate and secretive nature of the felling.

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Basic Data
NameRoadside Tree Felling in Sheffield, UK
CountryUnited Kingdom
ProvinceSouth Yorkshire
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 'Streets Ahead' Private Finance Initiative is a 25 year contract between Amey Plc, owned by Spain-based Ferrovial, and Sheffield City Council (SCC) which has taken out loans to pay for half of the £2.2 billion contract. Between 6000 and 18,000 trees are to be felled as part of the contract to improve the city's roads and pavements.
Project Area (in hectares)36,238
Level of Investment (in USD)3,088,492,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population575,400
Start Date01/01/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesAmey from United Kingdom - Contracted by SCC
Ferrovial from Spain
Relevant government actorsSheffield County Council
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSTAG - Sheffield Tree Action Group

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Global warming
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence
OtherLoss of memorials
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesS.T.A.G encourages engineering and tree-based solutions to be used instead of felling the trees [17]. These solutions have been proposed in the contract between the council and AMEY, but in many cases the trees have been felled instead . These solutions are:

Engineering Solutions

1. Installation of thinner profile kerbs.

2. Excavation of footways for physical root examination prior to an ultimate decision being made on removal.

3. Ramping / Re-profiling of footway levels over roots (within acceptable deviation levels).

4. Flexible paving/surfacing solution.

5. Removal of displaced kerbs leaving a gap in the channel.

6. Filling in of pavement cracks.

Alternative Solutions (also known as ‘Tree-Based Solutions’)

7. Root pruning.

8. Root shaving.

9. Root barriers and root guidance panels.

10. Excavation beneath the roots damaging the footway.

11. Tree growth retardant.

12. Creation of larger tree pits around existing trees.

13. Heavy tree crown reduction/pollarding to stunt tree growth.

14. Retain dead, dying, dangerous and diseased trees for their habitat value.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Much information about the basis of decision making by Amey remains undisclosed, and the council continues to support the contract. Trees continue to be felled despite local mobilisation.
Sources and Materials

[15] Legal Proceedings against activists breaching safety zone injunction
[click to view]


[4] STAG The 6 'D's
[click to view]

[1] Sheffield trees dispute: Council legal costs hit £250k
[click to view]

[7] The Guardian, Sheffield council votes to fell trees planted in memory of war dead
[click to view]

[8] Sheffield County Council, Household Survey Results
[click to view]

[click to view]

[10] STAG History
[click to view]

[13] The Guardian, Sheffield trees dispute prompts 'scenes you'd expect in Putin's Russia'
[click to view]

[14] FOI request: Independent Tree Panel report for Rustlings Road
[click to view]

[16] STAG Campaign News
[click to view]

[2] Elliot Consultancy

Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey

[click to view]

[3] Highways PFI meeting minutes
[click to view]

[5]STAG Tree life expectancy leaflet
[click to view]

[11] ITV, Street Party to Protect Trees
[click to view]

[6] Wildlife Trust, Chelsea Road Elm
[click to view]

[17] STAG Engineering Solutions
[click to view]

Media Links

[12] STAG Campaign
[click to view]

Other Documents

Living Memorial Trees are due to be felled In WW1 centenary remembrance events, a young man dressed as a soldier "guards" one of the trees planted in memory of a local resident.
[click to view]

Residents Protest Elm Tree Felling Campaigners marked trees to be felled with a yellow ribbon
[click to view]

Trees Felled on Residential Streets
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAlice Owen [email protected]
Last update16/02/2018