Friday, 23 Feb 2024

Fury at ‘council vandalism’ after more than 100 trees chopped down

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The centre of Plymouth has seen more than 100 mature trees cut down, a decision which campaigners have compared to the needless felling of thousands of trees in Sheffield.

In the face of widespread opposition from locals, the Conservative council in the Devonshire city cordoned off the area with metal fences, used security personnel and overnight on Tuesday oversaw the destruction of more than 100 trees with chainsaws.

According to the Guardian, around 16,000 Plymouth residents signed a petition to protect the trees. However, despite a community engagement session organised by the council, a mere number of hours later after the meeting finished the more than 100 trees were cut down.

At 1am, Straw, the local campaigning group to save the trees, managed to get an injunction and prevent three trees from being brought to the ground.

“We wrote to the city council and pointed out the parallels between what was going on here and Sheffield,” said Alison White, of Straw.

“But they said it was not a comparable situation. How is it not comparable? They have needlessly chopped down healthy mature trees. The people of Plymouth could not have made their views clearer that they were against this. It is a disgrace.”

A report assessing the decision to cut down thousands of trees in Sheffield, released a matter of days ago, referred to the felling in the Yorkshire city as a “chainsaw massacre”.

The report accused the council of “a serious and sustained failure of strategic leadership”.

In a tweet, Luke Pollard Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said: “It’s a scene of environmental devastation and utter council vandalism. I’m appalled at the actions of the Tory council. They have not listened to local people.”

The decision from Plymouth council to rip down the trees is part of a £12.7million regeneration of Armada Way.

Some of that money derives from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund designed to facilitate more walking and cycling.

The council said it had undertaken “meaningful engagement” with locals, beginning on February 6. On Tuesday night leader of the Conservative council, Richard Bingley gave the green light for the felling to start.

Conservationist and TV presenter Chris Packham hit out at the move, describing it as “despicable vandalism”.

He wrote on Twitter: “What the actual? @plymouthcc what is the matter with you? What do you not understand? Despicable vandalism.”

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