"Felling is always the last resort" - Sheffield City Council.
As a freelance film-maker living in Sheffield, UK, I was astonished to find this story unfolding, literally, on my doorstep. Galvanised by pre-dawn felling raids and subsequent arrests on
Rustlings Road in November 2016, I began documenting anything related to
the Save Sheffield Trees Campaign.
Coming to a street near you.....
Environmental activists are protesting the unnecessary destruction of 17,500 of their city's 36,000 mature street trees. Attempting to halt the ecocide, campaigners are battling an unsympathetic council and their secret £2.2bn 25-year PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contract with multinational infrastructure company, Amey.
Sheffield used to be the 'Greenest City in Europe' - but as the trees have been destroyed, that status is now lost.
This is a journey of tenacity and creativity on the part of the protectors, experiencing the highs and lows, humour and tears, and ever-ingenious tactics of modern day peaceful protest. Weaving NVDA (Non Violent Direct Action) through a myriad of legal challenges, including arrests, court hearings, injunctions, fines and threats of prison, verbal and physical assault, private ‘evidence gatherers’ and 'stewards' on the streets.
Protesters ingeniously named themselves Geckos (they stick to walls), Squirrels (they climb trees) and Bunnies (they hop over barriers into a safety zone). They masked up to cover their identities in order not to break the injunction.
It is a story of people from across the city and from all backgrounds, coming together, all bonding over the unnecessary felling of mature healthy street trees. We also see the lengths that officials will go to in order to continue with a highways contract that shows no transparency or accountability to the public.
Also addressed is the issue of the increasing use of injunctions by private corporations to prevent lawful peaceful protest, as has been seen with fracking companies in the UK.
Now in 2019, with hindsight and the explosion of Extinction Rebellion pushing climate change issues, it seems that the protests in Sheffield have been validated.
We had a very successful crowd funder last year, so now it's another push to get it edited and clearance on music etc.