Extinction Rebellion protest against developer’s decision to axe oak tree
PUBLISHED: 14:55 08 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:55 08 August 2020
Environmental activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and concerned residents marched in Thurston in protest of Persimmon Homes’ decision to axe a centuries-old oak tree as part of their new development.
On Tuesday, contractors on behalf of Persimmon began cutting some of the branches of a tree in Ixworth Road near the entrance to their 250-home College Park development north of the village.
The developer also has planning permission to remove several other oak trees, some believed to be 300 years old, on the side of the road to make way for a new path.
Persimmon said it only plans to remove trees that would pose a safety risk to either motorists or pedestrians.
Campaigners from the Bury St Edmunds branch of XR along with nearby residents began shielding some of the trees in Ixworth Road back in March, arguing that axing them would have a detrimental impact on the environment.
The trees were granted a stay of execution when Mid Suffolk District Council pledged to “explore other options” that could retain the trees.
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However, activists were left shocked on Tuesday when contractors suddenly appeared at one of the trees and barricaded it off.
The campaigners were left disappointed as they said the decision was taken without consultation.
A joint statement on behalf of the XR protestors said: “These recent activities have caused fury and distress among residents and activists as it becomes increasingly evident that housing developers, which do not factor in the ecological damage caused by the destruction of our environment, continue to come out on top.
“The underhanded behaviour of Persimmon Homes is particularly reprehensible as they have ignored all of the concerns raised and gone about the destruction of the tree without upholding the agreements reached in the meetings.”
A Persimmon spokesman said: “We were 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.
“All parties, including local councillors and Extinction Rebellion, were kept fully informed of the ongoing situation regarding the trees at Thurston and specifically including the oak tree at the entrance to our 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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