Several arrested over Sheffield tree-felling protest

Three people protesting against a controversial tree felling programme have been arrested after council contractors started cutting down trees with chainsaws before dawn.

Campaigners have condemned Sheffield City Council for going ahead with their "improvement" works in Rustlings Road, Sheffield, from around 5am this morning.

Members of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) claimed residents were woken up at 2am to move their cars.

They are magnificent trees that improve our quality of life. Yes there are a few cracks in the pavement and some of the trees will have to go as part of the upgrade package.

Councillor Joe Otten, Lib Dem member at Sheffield City Council and opposition spokesman for environment

In a statement Councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said he stood by the decision to do the "vital" maintenance work.

For more than a year we have worked tirelessly with Amey and the local community to find the right solution for Rustlings Road. We have written to every home, brought in a new survey process for the entire city and set up an Independent Tree Panel. Our approach has been assessed at the High Court on three occasions.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment

South Yorkshire Police confirmed 12 officers "provided assistance at the request of the council".

We have a small presence to ensure the safety of local residents and contractors whilst the work is carried out. Three people have been arrested on suspicion of preventing lawful work under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Relation Act 1992.

South Yorkshire Police spokesman