It has been reported that 32 of the 35 war memorial trees which were scheduled to be felled are set to be saved using engineering solutions.
Councillor Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene, said: I am confirming that we have developed a plan to retain 32 of the 35 war memorial trees that were originally earmarked for replacement…“Residents have been clear with me that they would like war memorial trees to be treated as a special case.”
Green Party Councillor Alison Teal said it was a “victory for common sense” and added “Of course, if the Western Rd trees can be retained, there is absolutely no reason why hundreds of other, equally healthy trees should not be saved too.”
In late summer 2012, AWA Tree Consultants surveyed all of the mature plane trees along Western Road in Sheffield, and found the vast majority to be in perfectly good health. During the tree inspections, friendly residents asked what we were up to, and told us about the history of the trees. They were planted in 1919 to commemorate former Westways School pupils who died during the First World War and are listed by the War Memorial Trust and the Imperial War Museum. We assured the residents that the trees were in good health and so there was nothing for them to worry about. While some of the pavements were uneven as a result of the tree roots, at the time, it seemed inconceivable that this would warrant their removal, and that other engineering methods would be used to remedy the pavements. Since this time, the council contractors identified the now infamous ‘misplaced kerbs’, and almost half of the War Memorial trees were scheduled to be felled.
Mature urban trees and War Memorials are both powerful icons for the surrounding community. They both have great meaning and reflect our local identity. The special significance these trees have should not be underestimated. Not everybody is a ‘tree-hugger’, and the religious and political views of Sheffield’s community is varied; however, the protection of these trees represents a ‘common cause’ for any reasonable person – in our respect for those who have died on our behalf and for our natural environment.
We’ve spoken regularly about the need for a balanced approach to managing Sheffield’s urban forest, and so commend both the campaigners who have fought to have these saved, and Sheffield Council, who have done the right thing! If the Council are to work with engineers, arboriculturists and the local community, to retain as many of these trees as is possible, it will create some well needed positive tree news for Sheffield.