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Extinction Rebellion climb in oak trees to protect them from being axed for new path

PUBLISHED: 15:19 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 10 March 2020

Persimmon Homes plan to build a pathway where the trees currently stand Picture: ARCHANT

Persimmon Homes plan to build a pathway where the trees currently stand Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Protestors from environmental group Extinction Rebellion (XR) have perched themselves in centuries-old oak trees that are threatened with being felled to make way for a new path.

Extinction Rebellion protestors, with Jen Tooke-Marchant in the tree behind them. Picture: ARCHANTExtinction Rebellion protestors, with Jen Tooke-Marchant in the tree behind them. Picture: ARCHANT

The four trees - believed to be around 300-years-old - are set to be felled by contractors as part of a Persimmon Homes development in Ixworth Road, Thurston.

The protesters have joined residents who are trying to protect the trees from being taken down, but Persimmon have said the construction of the pathway is necessary under the terms of their planning permission.

XR set up banners along Ixworth Road at the weekend, but have since begun protecting the oak trees around the clock to safeguard their future.

The group believe the pathway can be built further away from the road and not require the trees to be removed, a plan they argue would be safer due to speeding drivers.

The protestors have committed to protecting the trees around the clock Picture: ARCHANTThe protestors have committed to protecting the trees around the clock Picture: ARCHANT

Persimmon have already taken down some smaller trees in preparation for the construction of the pathway.

Jen Tooke-Marchant, one of the XR activists, said she had arrived from her night-shift job to prevent the trees being axed.

She also hopes the protest sets a precedent if the group can persuade Persimmon to alter their plans and build the pathway away from the trees.

Mrs Tooke-Marchant said: 'This is just silly - it does seem like there are other options for Persimmon.

Extinction Rebellion say the trees don't need to be axed for the pathway Picture: ARCHANTExtinction Rebellion say the trees don't need to be axed for the pathway Picture: ARCHANT

'It's really important that we keep these trees. They have been taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for many years and are a home for wildlife.

'Sitting here protecting the trees is more important than our day-to-day lives. We'll be here as long as it takes.

'There is no excuse to chop down 300-year-old trees in a climate emergency.'

A spokesman for Persimmon Homes Suffolk said: 'As part of the requirements of the outline planning permission we are obligated to provide a cycleway alongside Ixworth Road.

'Unfortunately, some trees will need to be removed to facilitate this development, which was unavoidable due to the need to achieve a safe cycleway and the required visibility splays.

'The tree works have been agreed following discussions with Mid Suffolk District Council, in conjunction with Suffolk County Council, and are now underway.'

A spokesman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: ''Planning permission was granted in 2018 for 250 homes to the north of the village of Thurston.

'As part of this development it is proposed that necessary works will be carried out to trees and shrubs along Ixworth Road.

'This is to ensure safe vehicular access, to both the new development and potential new school, which will provide a much-needed education provision for the area. 
'These works will also accommodate a new footpath and cycle way, to encourage the community to use greener sustainable transport options where possible.

'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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