Sheffield City Council has run up a £250,000 legal bill defending tree felling operations, the BBC has uncovered.
The sum, which includes legal services, counsel fees and other costs, involves court hearings in 2016 and 2017 involving the Streets Ahead scheme.
Campaigners said the cost to taxpayers in the city “could have been avoided”.
A council spokesman said it took a “pragmatic approach” and had sought the “best possible deal” for taxpayers.
As part of Streets Ahead, an ongoing £2bn project to improve roads and footpaths in Sheffield, about 5,500 trees have been cut down since 2012.
Protesters prevent ‘Michael Gove’s tree’ from being felled in Sheffield
Protesters in Sheffield have today prevented council contractors felling trees visited by Environment Secretary Michael Gove 24 hours before as the Cabinet Minister came to the city on a fact-finding mission.
Campaigners said staff from Amey had been prevented from felling three trees on Kenwood Road by people standing on private property close to those under threat. But the council said a number of activists had “chosen to trespass inside safety barriers erected around tree works” in breach of a High Court ruling banning people from doing so.
Michael Gove seeking way to end ‘bonkers’ felling of Sheffield trees
Environment secretary hopes for ‘decent conversation’ with council, but says he is also exploring ‘legal or policy avenues’
Michael Gove has asked government officials to explore ways of stopping the “bonkers” felling of thousands of roadside trees in Sheffield.
The environment secretary said the government would examine “legal or policy avenues” to end the scheme that has triggered months of protests by residents.
On a visit to the city on Wednesday, Gove said he hoped a “decent conversation” with Sheffield city council would help solve the dispute. But he added: “It is also the case that we will explore what legal or policy avenues we have.