Activists’ shock as centuries-old oak tree is removed
PUBLISHED: 19:33 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 19:33 04 August 2020
Campaigners have been left ‘disappointed’ after Persimmon Homes began work to axe a centuries-old oak tree as part of their new housing development in Thurston.
Contractors unexpectedly appeared at the tree near the new 250-home development in Ixworth Road on Tuesday, prompting environmental activists to rush to protect it.
One campaigner even perched herself in the tree, which Persimmon said needs to be removed due to visibility concerns for motorists.
Persimmon commenced work to remove several oak trees, some believed to be around 300 years old, along Ixworth Road in March to make way for a new path to connect the new homes with the rest of the village.
However, the move sparked backlash from the community, with many residents voicing concerns over the negative impact removing them would have on the environment.
Extinction Rebellion campaigners even climbed some of the trees to prevent them from being axed by contractors.
The trees were granted a stay of execution when Mid Suffolk District Council said they would “explore other options” for the path that could keep the trees standing.
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But campaigners have been left furious after the developer began axing a tree before the results of an ecological study were made public.
Wendy Turner, Green Party councillor for Thurston, said: “I was under the impression that we would have a meeting with the stakeholders before any trees were cut down. “I feel Persimmon have gone ahead and done it without contacting us. I am incredibly cross that this has gone ahead.
“We still have to be alert about what is happening.
“I am really disappointed we weren’t contacted. We thought we would be able to see the ecological report before any work was done.”
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Suffolk said: “Our planning team has liaised extensively and regularly with the local authority and key stakeholders over the last eight weeks to try to find a solution which would satisfy all parties.
“However, we have been instructed by the Highways Department that the tree at the access point to our site must be removed for highway safety reasons and to comply with the planning consent for the development.
“We continue to engage in positive discussions with the council and other interested parties to seek alternative outcomes for the remaining trees and we will comply with whatever decision is made.
“We are also exploring options for planting additional trees in and around the village, to provide new green spaces for generations to come.”
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