A new row at North Northamptonshire Council over the chopping down of trees has been sparked amid controversial plans to fell 61 trees to build a new dual carriageway – by adding an additional lane at the roundabout on the A509.
Greated by protestors from the Save Our Trees campaign outside the Corby Cube yesterday, members of the council said they were not told by developers Vistry of the true extent of the felling in Wellingborough until a site inspection on February 9 – just ten days before work was set to begin.
Despite protests from residents who argued that an active Tree Protection Order was in place, 15 were cut down before work was paused last Thursday March 2. The controversial felling is to allow access to the site of a new carriageway leading to the £1 billion Stanton Cross development.
100 Trees Destroyed in Plymouth
It comes after Plymouth Council sparked outrage by destroying more than 100 trees ‘like monsters in the night’ to make way for a £12.7 million project. Conservative-run Plymouth City Council suddenly gave the green light on Tuesday evening to remove more than a hundred trees following months of delay – despite facing heavy criticism over the plans.
Campaigners collected more than 12,000 signatures as part of a petition against removing the trees but the council pressed ahead, citing the need to create a ‘business friendly’ centre as part of a £12.7m regeneration. Protesters turned out in Plymouth city centre after contractors moved in to cut down the trees but were well outnumbered by police and security guards.
SAVE OUR TREES – Campaign Continues
The Save Our Trees campaign and Wellingborough Walks Action Group were launched by local residents last month, with hundreds of people protesting on the site of the tree felling, leading to six arrests. Members of the public were frustrated by North Northamptonshire Council and criticised the council for its ‘lack of response’ and called its actions ‘disgraceful’.
During the two weeks that local people battled with police and contractors, 15 trees were cut down before work was paused last Thursday 2nd March. Vistry Group then agreed to pause the felling until after they have held a public consultation with residents expected to take place this month. Work is expected to start again soon after the consultation.
There are still many unanswered questions. Residents were able to hold back the felling for some days, but some were arrested for aggravated trespass for refusing to move off the road when asked by Northamptonshire police, one was charged, Paul, but as yet has not been processed. North Northamptonshire Council has not put into the public domain any written evidence about permissions given to the developer to cut down the trees, and the developer has not made public any evidence either.
Police, who arrested residents, but refused to intervene in the tree felling, have removed from their social media a post which said activity of the developer was ‘lawful’ and instead replaced it with a statement which said the force would ‘remain impartial in delivering our core policing responsibilities.’
Councillor Valerie Anslow, who has been a key part of the action to stop the felling said Cllr Smithers has ‘abdicated all responsibility’ and said ‘they can’t pretend it has nothing to do with them’. Cllr Anslow has also put in a complaint to the Conservative police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold as she did not think the police were impartial when they were dealing with the protests.
We have sought legal advice and we believe the exemption the developer is relying on does not apply and as a result the felling is unlawful and they are committing a criminal offence. We see that the only way we can prove this action is unlawful is to take the case to court, to seek an injunction to permanently stop the tree felling for good! This is what we plan to do and we need your help to raise the funds to do this. A crowdfund will be launched to raise funds to pay for this action, we will share this as soon as this is available.