Last update:

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.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Roadside Tree Felling in Sheffield, UK
Country:United Kingdom
State or province:South Yorkshire
Location of conflict:Sheffield
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 commodities:Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The '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:36,238
Level of Investment:3,088,492,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:575,400
Start of the conflict:01/01/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Amey from United Kingdom - Contracted by SCC
Ferrovial from Spain
Relevant government actors:Sheffield County Council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:STAG - Sheffield Tree Action Group
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic 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-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of memorials
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:S.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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[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]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[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]

Meta information
Contributor:Alice Owen [email protected]
Last update16/02/2018
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.