Campaigners accuse Doncaster councillor of 'misleading the public' over tree felling claims

Campaigners have accused a leading Doncaster councillor of ‘misleading the public’ after he said a Sheffield tree ‘protester’ agreed that 64 street trees should be removed along a residential road.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 7:28 pm

But this has been denied by campaigners including prominent Sheffield Tree Action Group member Dave Dillner, who met with Doncaster Council officials twice earlier in the year to discuss concerns on Middlefield Road.

He said that the trees ‘should not be removed’ despite Coun Blackham saying a Sheffield protester, thought to be Mr Dilner, agreed with the council’s methods.

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Tree protest in middlefield Road in Doncaster. Picture Scott Merrylees

There is now one tree left on the road but it is expected to be removed this week after council officials put up fencing around the remaining four on Tuesday morning to stop protesters standing under them.

Mr Dillner, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, said: “What Doncaster Council has done is a heinous environment crime in my opinion, reduced the air quality and tree canopy unnecessarily.

“I’m gobsmacked by Coun Blackham’s comments, I’m calling bull on what he’s said. There’s nobody from Sheffield what has said they agree with Doncaster Council on this and certainly not me.

“I am appalled and more than angry for him to come out and say something like that.

Tree protest in middlefield Road in Doncaster. Picture Scott Merrylees

"I said in no uncertain terms that these trees could stay and engineering solutions were available in order to fix the pavements as they want to.”

Tony Nicholson, one of the Doncaster campaigners and a Green Party spokesman added: “It really is like Doncaster Council looked at the appalling behaviour by Sheffield Council and are deliberately setting to one up them.

“They are not engaging with our concerns, they are not reaching out to talk, they are making statements to the media which show no bearing on reality.

“At a time when public trust in politicians is so low it is beyond belief that the Labour administration in Doncaster is showing so much contempt for local residents and the general public.”

Tree protest in middlefield Road in Doncaster. Picture Scott Merrylees

A Doncaster Council spokesman said: “We are not intending to say anything further at this point.”

The council began felling trees back in January but stopped after leading environmental barrister Paul Powlesland, who represented Sheffield campaigners said Doncaster Council ‘could be breaking the law’.

Bosses at the local authority halted felling but resumed in October after saying the Forestry Commission told them they ‘don’t need a licence’ to carry out the removal in order to fix pavements.

Campaigners in Doncaster have said that engineering solutions are available in order to save the healthy trees while still being able to fix the pavements.

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