Sheffield residents take to streets to protest against 150-year-old oak tree being felled

A group of about 100 protesters campaigned yesterday against plans to cut down a 150-year-old oak tree in Sheffield.

The tree, which is on Vernon Road in the Dore area of the city, is one of thousands of trees to be felled as part of Sheffield City Council’s ‘Streets Ahead’ project, which was launched in 2012 to improve the conditions of the city’s roads and pavements.

A survey carried out by the council in 2012 said that only dead, dying, diseased or dangerous trees would be felled.

Protesters gather around the oak tree, nicknamed “Vernon”

But a report by the Independent Tree Panel, which was set up in partnership with the council to inspect the condition of the trees in question, said that the Vernon Road oak tree “is an oak aged about 150 years. It is a very fine specimen, in excellent condition, with a further 150 years life expectancy.”

The panel members therefore advised that there was “a strong arboricultural reason for retaining this tree.”

But the council have announced that they still intend to tear the tree down, claiming it obstructs the pavement.

Yesterday, residents from across Sheffield travelled to Vernon Road to join in a celebration of the tree and campaign against its imminent felling.

They adorned the tree with red love hearts and banners with messages written on them, one of which read: “I’ve been here longer than the road – or the houses – and if I’m left in peace I shall outlive all the people now alive in Sheffield. I’m not doing anyone any harm. Why do certain people want to CHOP ME DOWN?”

One campaigner, Graham Turnbull, 49, of Montgomery Road, said: ” It was a very nice event. We sang songs, danced around the tree and had cake and biscuits. There was even some spontaneous poetry reading.

“It was very last minute but it was very nice to see how much we managed to do despite that. We are trying to draw as much attention to the issue as possible, and it seems to be working so far.”

The Vernon Road oak tree was decorated with drawings and messages from the public.

The council has not announced a date on which the tree will be cut down, but has told the campaigners that they will provide seven days notice before the fellers arrive.

Mr Turnbull said: “There are people who live on that street who are watching the tree constantly. The minute they see anything, there will be loads of people out there trying to stop it from going ahead.”