Villagers are backing campaigners trying to save a row of oak trees which are destined to be felled to incorporate a footpath and cycle route as part of plans for a new housing development calling the chopping down of the trees as “wanton destruction”.
They have joined forces with Extinction Rebellion to stop them being felled along Ixworth Road, in Thurston, with some pledging to return to the site every day until plans to down the trees are halted with banners hung around them.
The oaks, which are hundreds of years old, face the chop as a new footpath and cycle path is built as part of a new housing development by Persimmon Homes for 240 new homes.
Jennifer Tooke-Marchant has set up an online petition entitled “Save Thurston’s precious trees” which so far has over 1,300 names added to it.
She said: “Looking at the arboricultural report, these trees would have lived a cumulative 1,390 more years, providing habitat for millions of animals, food for billions and sequestering approximately 31,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. Instead, the trees which have been cut down will now release the carbon they had been storing. Countless birds and invertebrates have been left homeless, and at least two squirrel dreys have been destroyed. One of the oak trees still standing is due to be retained, but two other very mature oak trees are set (we believe) to be felled in the near future.
“We demand that these remaining trees are saved, with Tree Preservation Orders placed on them, and propose that other options exist with regards to the path.
“It takes 150 years for a tree to become mature, so simply planting saplings to replace trees which have been growing for over 50 years is unacceptable.”
Posts made on the social media site Nextdoor expressed dismay and sadness with Thurston resident Gill Griffith saying: “It’s heartbreaking to see the oak trees being felled on the Ixworth Road. I know a footpath needs to be laid but couldn’t they go around them? Or pinch a few feet from the school boundary. It’s wanton destruction of 100s of years.”
Fellow resident Bobby Hazelton said: “It’s disgusting, our poor, poor little village. We moved to the village over 20 years ago to live in a rural setting.”
Gary Linares, who lives in Norton, said: “Clearly there is space for a path between the trees and school grounds.”
Thurston resident Pamela Cook asked: “Is there not a preservation order on the trees? There often is with oak trees so it might be worth looking into.”
Alan Taylor, from Norton, said: “Trees are really important for lots of reasons. Oak trees are particularly special as they support a large variety of insect species as well as birds etc. It would be a scandal to chop them down, a better solution should be found and promptly.”
And Linda Barnard, who lives in Rushbrooke, said: “this is utterly heartbreaking and disgusting that this has been allowed to happen in the first place. Total ignorance. Well done and a huge thank you to those lovely people that were there, protesting.”
Persimmon have said: “We are obligated to provide a cycleway alongside Ixworth Road. Unfortunately, some trees will need to be removed to facilitate this.”