Trees protest to be disbanded in the wake of Covid19 pandemic

Campaigners trying to save a row of oak trees in Thurston, which were destined to be felled, have called on protestors to disband and move away from the area in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic and put their resources into helping support the community in other ways.

They are also planning to have a day of celebration tomorrow (Saturday, March 14) to celebrate a “new lease of life” for the trees after council officials decided to relook at their plans.

It comes after Extinction Rebellion (XR) environmental activists climbed oak trees to protect them from being axed resulting in Mid Suffolk District Council saying the plans may be revised.

Persimmon Homes have permission to construct a cycleway and footpath along the Ixworth Road connecting the village with their new 240 home development, though several trees would have to be sacrificed. But the council have now said they will “explore other options” that could ensure the trees will not be removed to build the pathway.

Richard Hallewell, a Thurston resident and member of Extinction Rebellion, said: “We are delighted by the widely reported news that Mid Suffolk District Council are now working with Persimmon Homes to re-examine the development plans in Thurston in order to save the remaining oak trees.

“With the depth of public support that this re-thinking has brought, we sincerely hope that there will be no further reversal that again places these ancient trees in danger at a time when all around the world people are desperately planting more trees to try to mitigate the climate emergency we face.

“With the UK’s Covid19 pandemic response now moving into the delay phase may I suggest that it is in nobody’s interest to have a group of people camped out, with limited sanitation facilities, near to a school. Also, the Extinction Rebellion contingent at the camp are planning ways to support our communities as this pandemic develops (e.g. doing shopping runs for elderly who are afraid to go out etc.) and we would far rather be doing that than remaining on site.

“We will therefore clear the site this weekend. We will be closely monitoring the site until a formal solution is announced, and will return to escalate the protest if needed.

“Finally, we are planning to have a celebratory day on Saturday at the site where we will run art workshops where families can come and try printing, banner making and other activities that celebrate the new lease of life that you are giving to these beautiful and irreplaceable trees.”

A spokesman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: ‘We recognise the community’s concerns about these works regrettably affecting some of the oak trees in the locality and have met with the developers and Suffolk County Council to explore all other options. Our planning team will continue to work with our partners to find a solution which could allow for trees to be retained, whilst also ensuring that the safety of footpath and cycleway users is not compromised.”

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