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MP expresses ‘disappointment’ at bid to axe ancient oak trees

PUBLISHED: 09:05 30 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:05 30 May 2020

Extinction Rebellion protestors began protecting a number of oak trees in Ixworth in March Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Extinction Rebellion protestors began protecting a number of oak trees in Ixworth in March Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill has called the proposed felling of two centuries-old oak trees in Thurston a “disappointment” - as Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors prepare a last ditch bid to save them.

Some protestors even perched themselves in the trees Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSome protestors even perched themselves in the trees Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Persimmon Homes has planning permission to build a new cycleway and footpath in Ixworth Road, which will connect the village with its new housing development.

The developer said its plans to build 250 homes “would make a substantial contribution towards addressing the housing needs locally”.

However, the scheme has proved controversial as it would mean a number of oak trees, some believed to be around 300 years old, would need to be removed.

Just as Persimmon contractors prepared to remove the trees in March, XR activists began surrounding them in protest - with some even perching themselves in the branches.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill called the decision to axe the trees a 'disappointment' Picture: MARIAM GHAEMIBury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill called the decision to axe the trees a 'disappointment' Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

The protest appeared to have forced Mid Suffolk District Council into a rethink, saying they would “explore other options” that could keep the trees.

MORE: Extinction Rebellion tree-climbing protest forces council into rethink over path

However, Persimmon have now written to Thurston residents revealing they plan to recommence work on the pathway on Monday, June 1, arguing two trees near the housing development need to be removed due to safety concerns.

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Mrs Churchill has been in contact with Mid Suffolk and Persimmon - but said she was relieved to hear the developer was planning to leave some of the other trees in Ixworth Road standing.

She said: “Persimmon and Mid Suffolk explained that the that the two trees had to be removed for safety reasons and access to the site.

“I am pleased, however, that following my previous correspondence the council and developer were able to draw up alternative plans for the cycleway and ensure a majority of the trees would be saved.

“I know this will be a disappointment for many local residents in Thurston and I have made it very clear that beyond the two trees being taken down for safety reasons, all other remaining trees should be left untouched.

“I also requested Persimmon worked with the local community to plant more trees so future generations have access to green spaces to enjoy.”

However, determined XR activists have pledged to protect the trees and are planning a socially-distanced protest from Monday.

A spokesman said: “Last May, the UK government declared a climate emergency, admitting for the first time, publicly, that the ecological collapse being wrought by human activity needs to be halted as quickly as possible.
“How then, in this situation, can Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council consider the destruction of such trees, which have so much carbon stored within them, to be acceptable?”

MORE: Extinction Rebellion plans new protest after developer reveals centuries-old oak trees will be axed

Persimmon has been contacted for comment on Mrs Churchill’s remarks.


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