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Street tree vision: New partnership strategy released

Street Tree Working Strategy - agreed between Sheffield City Council, Amey, Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) and others - means Sheffield's street trees "will be protected, sustained, and increased in number".

Lime trees nether edge N Rivers edited

Lime trees in Nether Edge.

A new shared vision has been released outlining the future management and care of Sheffield's street trees.

It's the result of months of work between Sheffield City Council, contractor Amey, the Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) and other bodies like the Woodland Trust.

The vision aims to overcome a long-running dispute between campaigners and the Council over the controversial replacement of mature street trees as part of the £2 billion Streets Ahead contract.

"This working strategy is the culmination of seven months collaboration between a whole range of partners, and I am personally extremely grateful to all those who have contributed their time and expertise," said Paul Selby from STAG.

"The working strategy was approved by the Council in March this year and, assuming it is implemented, Sheffield's residents can be confident that their street trees will be protected, sustained, and increased in number."

Alongside the shared vision, an online survey has been released to collect the views of residents from across Sheffield. This will help shape a final strategy by next spring.

According to The Guardian, 5,500 mature street trees were replaced as part of the Streets Ahead contract until felling was paused in March 2018.

Protesters say that the nature of the contract with Amey meant that the French outsourcing giant had a financial motivation to replace mature trees rather than design accessible pavements around them, as this would reduce maintenance costs over the 25-year contract.

Some campaigners took direct action to stop felling, which resulted in three members of STAG being found in contempt of court for breaking an injunction.

In 2018 Amey, STAG and the Council entered into talks to find a way forward, mediated by the Bishop of Sheffield. This led to the formation of the Sheffield Street Tree Strategy Development Group and the creation of the new shared vision.

"As a group we wanted to produce something positive and visionary - for the city to collectively view street trees as an asset, helping us to improve air quality, reduce flood risk, support wildlife and store carbon, and to promote the wellbeing of our cities citizens," said group chair Liz Ballard.

"This strategy aims to learn from the past in order to deliver our vision for the future of Sheffield's street trees."

The online survey for residents is open until 8 October.

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