Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of attention paid to the management of the street trees in Sheffield. In summary, the Local Authority has engaged a private business to manage highways; and by association, the street trees. A number of important issues had been identified such as trees causing damage to the highway and trees distorting pavements so that they could not be used safely to name two. Some of the issues can be overcome by engineering but of course, that comes at a cost.
In an effort to balance cost and outcome, it was decided that a number of trees must be felled.
The removal of the trees has brought out activists; created an action group; generated heated discussions; and even seen violent protest on the streets – with police involvement. It seems the two ‘sides’ are heading for some catastrophic event where someone is seriously injured or worse.
Polarised views are never helpful in these situations.
In my view, we’re all on the same side; that is society, where we hope to be living in a system of services, facilities and infrastructure. It all costs money and we are taxed to pay for it. It’s a finite amount of money. I don’t think we should spend ‘whatever it takes’ to solve the issues and I’d like to think the decisions made are pragmatic and justified. The problem is that it seems (at least from some of the press I’ve read) that that’s not the case and the ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ approach has been taken.
I take comfort in the fact that there is a policy of tree replacement in the scheme being undertaken and that overall, this will ensure there is a long-term street tree presence in Sheffield, with pavements that are safe and usable. Its not all about money but it’s not all about trees either. It would have been great if some of the borderline cases could have been re-assessed though….
Pictures are of a street tree along Empingham Road in Stamford.