Protestors gather on Doncaster street in bid to stop controversial tree felling plan

A protest to protect what remains of a group of lime trees in a Doncaster suburb has escalated, with demonstrators saying police have fined them under the Covid-19 lockdown rules.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 2:11 pm

Protestors have gathered on Middlefield Road, Bessacarr, and engaged in a ‘standoff’ with police, with one reportedly climbing one of the nine lime trees on the road.

That is all that remains of the original 64 healthy lime trees that lined the road until Doncaster Council announced plans to fell them earlier this year.

The initial programme was paused following complaints from residents.

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One of the protestors at Middlefield Road

However it resumed late last month, with Doncaster Council saying that following a ‘detailed assessment’ it had concluded that the remaining nine need to be chopped down for ‘safety reasons’.

Supporting the protest is Yorkshire and Humber Green Party, with local campaigners criticising the council’s decision to spend money felling the trees.

Kate Needham, a Green Party campaigner for the Don Valley, said: “This is not only bad for our environment, but offers poor value for money for taxpayers here in Doncaster.

“Doncaster Council is already struggling financially to deal with deal with huge problems such as bailing out the firm that run Doncaster markets as well as the financial problems being caused by the ongoing battle with covid-19.

The lime trees on Middlefield Road

“It makes no sense that they have decided that now is the time they choose to revisit felling beautiful, healthy and mature lime trees on Middlefield Road.”

Doncaster Council said that it was necessary to fell the trees “due to the deterioration of the footpaths surrounding the trees and to replace the remaining sections of footway.”

A council spokesperson said: “Individual assessments of the remaining nine trees on Middlefield Road confirmed that they require removal on safety grounds due to the deterioration of the footpaths surrounding the trees and to replace the remaining sections of footpath.

"Each of the remaining trees were inspected on an individual basis and each one was found to be causing damage to the footway because of lateral root growth.

A felled lime tree on Middlefield Road.

"Protective measures such as shielding was not considered viable at this location due to the existing construction and condition of the footway.

“The removal of these trees is not a decision we have taken lightly and we have engaged with affected residents.

"As well as replacing the trees being removed on the road itself with a smaller species of tree, we will be planting additional trees in a number of locations within the Bessacarr area, subject to engagement with the residents there, in line with our tree policy and as part of our commitment to planting trees and combatting climate change in Doncaster.”

However, Fiona Cahill, another campaigner who lives locally, said: “The residents living on Middlefield Road we spoke to who were alarmed by the ‘so-called consultation’ were already well informed that felling is not the best or most economical way to deal with the damage that tree roots can cause to pavements.”

“It’s worth remembering that newly planted saplings cannot replace mature canopy cover so we are calling on the council to keep the existing tree cover and instead repair the pavements.”

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “Following a complaint from a member of the public, four people were issued with Fixed Penalty Notices yesterday (10 November) in Middlefield Road, Cantley.

“As with all FPNs issued under new regulations, we will undertake a review to ensure that the law was properly engaged and the right course of action was taken in the circumstances. This will include a review of the officer’s body worn video footage. The authorising officer will then make a decision whether to uphold or withdraw the FPN.“We cannot provide further comment until this review has been undertaken.”