“The most successful environmental grassroots campaign ever”: The Felling documentary premieres at Sheffield City Hall

Written by Jack Lister

Hundreds of viewers filled the Sheffield City Hall as the green carpet was rolled out for the international premiere of The Felling- An Epic Tale of People Power.

Directed by Jacqui Bellamy and Eve Wood, the tree felling dispute originated from a £2bn highways contract between Sheffield City Council and contractor Amey.

In a speech which sparked applause from the audience Paul Powlesland said: “It was the most successful environmental grassroots campaign ever.

“After the event I’m looking forward to cycling past the trees that we have saved.”

Barrister Paul Powlesland introduces the event.

As part of a 25-year resurfacing project on Sheffield highways the campaign had intended to fell 17,500 perfectly healthy trees, according to Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG).

The afternoon’s entertainment was introduced by Barrister, Mr Powlesland, who defended the protesting Sheffield Tree Campaigners in 2017 for free in court and eventually won the case.

The film showcased the stories of protesters, many of whom were arrested for disrupting the Council’s tree felling activity.

Freda Brayshaw, was arrested in November 2016 for standing underneath a tree to prevent its felling during the 4am Rustlings Road night raid.

Freda Brayshaw, with her poem at the Premiere.

Mrs Brayshaw, who read her poem to the audience prior to the showing, said: “It’s a great occasion, this means so much more than saving trees, it’s about the community.”

The Poem written by Freda Brayshaw about her arrest in November 2016.

The film encapsulated the excessive measures in which the Sheffield City Council took in order to prevent protesters from disrupting tree felling.

Footage from the film revealed night time tree felling taking place on Rustlings Road and Meersbrook Park Road despite a curfew on activity before 7am.

Staff from multinational contractor, Amey, were seen in the film to forcibly remove protestors in order to fell trees and set up high steel barriers around trees to prevent disruption from protesters.

The conclusion of the film sparked a standing ovation with the overall feeling of justice being served in what marked a celebratory occasion for the protesters who had faced years of hardship.

Following a well-attended premiere at the Sheffield City Hall the film will be shown in cinemas from 1 April 2022.

Written by Jack Lister

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