SAVE OUR TREES – Update from Tree Action Public Information Event

Thank you to the 80 plus people that came to our two Tree Action Public Information Events on Wednesday 23rd August. From the feedback that we have, the event was well received and informative. Many people that attended have supported us both financially and in person at the protests and at our events. Thank you for your support!

For both sessions, people came in had a cup of tea of tea or coffee, chatted to the helpers and looked at our displays. People then went into the main meeting room and were treated to a presentation. We promised you and the 20 or so others that have also requested, the information, so, excluding a few introductory slides, here is the presentation:

Aim of the Session

• Update you on present situation
• Explain What We have been doing
• Let you know how the money has been spent
• Offer a chance for you to ask questions
• Go through the next steps
• Ask for your Ideas and your help
• Raise more funds for the campaign

Saving the Walks Trees – How we got here

• Heard of planned felling 12th Feb 2023
• Found the Trees had Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) on them
• Worked to get ‘a pause’ but could not
• Developer felled 16 of planned 61 TPO trees
• Found Barrister (Paul Powesland) to help and received legal advice
• He blocked more felling by climbing a tree
• North Northamptonshire Council and the developer agreed a temp pause (3rd March)
• Wellingborough Walks Action Group Limited non profit company formed (17th March)
• Wellingborough Town Council held Public Meeting (9th March) and agreed to help
• Developer held public meeting (23rd March)
• North Northamptonshire Council announced further pause in during Bird Nesting Season
• Wellingborough Walks Action Group Limited appointed legal team Harrison Grant Ring

Legal Actions so far

• Lodged for Judicial Review (JR) on 18th May and immediately asked for a ‘stay’
• All parties met on 19th May at Swanspool House
• We recruited a Highways Engineer to help
• He produced report detailing minor changes to save trees
• Judge instructed us all to try and come to ‘out of court’ agreement (ADR)
• ADR started 21st June, we signed mediation and confidentially agreement
• Technical meeting happened on 30th June, all parties discussed WWAG ideas
• All parties wrote requesting further ‘stay’ to end August 2023
• Judge agreed adjournment to 1st September on 17th July
• Developer confirmed would not touch the trees in period
• Developer withdrew from ‘out of court’ discussions, ADR ended
• Developer now doing its own ‘technical review’
• We wrote to ask the developer to confirm they wont fell trees before JR ends

‘Out of Court’ Discussions – our ideas….

• Wellingborough Walks Action Group Limited believe the trees could be saved by making a few ‘minor’ adjustments to the roundabout design
• We offered discussions on this basis
• Court could be avoided for all and road happen anyway
• Changes – under S278 process – not new planning application
• Simon (Engineer) produced report suggesting adjustments
• These minor adjustments are…

Summary of Reports Suggestions

• Northern Trees – (2 trees) could save by adjusting footpath/cycle-path around them
• Central Trees – (6 trees) could retain as within planned island
• Eastern Trees – (inner line of protected trees south of roundabout) – could save by not building new cycle path if tree root protection area allows
• Western Trees – (tree line closest to road) – could save most by moving lanes over to opposite side of road

Gas Main Issue

• One issue mentioned by the Developer at their public event on
23rd March was the matter of the Gas Main cutting across the
southern side of the roundabout, and the likelihood that some
protected trees would need to be felled to make way for works to re-
enforce this pipe on both sides of the road which would extend a short
way into the ‘Whitworth’s Field’ and the ‘Embankment Field’.
• As Information shared by the Developer at their public event also
showed, the gas main is accompanied by an easement, which means
that works can be carried out on this gas main under the terms of the
easement, whether the land is publicly or privately owned (Board 6).
We believe this easement should allay the developer’s concerns
• We hope the Developers’ revised technical S278 report for the
roundabout will be shared with us and that it incorporates the
Highways Engineer’s suggested modifications

Money Raised and Spent so far

• We have raised just over £43,000, AMAZING! Thank you
• We have spent just over £38,000, leaving about £5,000
• 97% of all money has been spent on legal costs (£36,779)
• Total help from lawyers so far is 104 hours
• Consultant costs £3,000 and barrister = £7770 (included above)

Other Contributions

• Volunteer Time, over 1,000 hours contributed by the Wellingborough Walks Action Group Limited Management Committee and helpers so far, also amazing!
• Many people also paying for items for fundraising events, running stalls and we even entered the carnival (and were judged as the best entrant!)
• Wonderful events delivered including Music at the Museum, Bingo Nights and an auction.
• Performers at the museum sung for free!

Next Legal Steps

• From 1st Sept 2023, judge to review Judicial Review papers and decide on if we have ‘permission’ to go to court.
• If judge agrees, our case goes to The High Court.
• Approximately 3 months after permission given, the case heard in The High Court
• If permission not given, we can request time with the court for an in person Renewal Hearing.
• If successful, can then we go to The High Court.
• Renewal process adds approximately a further 1- 3 months to the process.

Further Legal Costs

• We have paid all costs up to JR permission review.
• If permission granted, cost approximately is £27,500 (inc VAT) to get to The High Court
• If permission refused and renewal hearing required – cost approximately is £8,500 (inc VAT) plus high court costs above if renewal successful; therefore total of £36,000 approx (inc VAT)
• If we go to court and lose, we need a further £10,000 for other parties costs
• If we require injunction to prevent felling before JR concluded we need approximately a further £8,400 (inc VAT)

Very daunting. Lots more fundraising to do!

Raising More Funds. Your Ideas

There is a significant amount of money still to raise, we want to know:

Do we have your support to keep going?

What other things can we all do to raise more funds?

Can you help us to go forward?

• As well as needing financial support, we also need time and help!
• Can you help?
• How, when?
• Could you be on the Committee?
• Can you help run events and raise funds?
• Could you do letter writing to raise funds?
• Could you speak to businesses?
• What ideas do you have?

After the presentation, everyone, chatted with the Committee Members, had more refreshments, bought a few SAVE OUR TREES t-shirts, polo shirts and bags (buy here) and the press took a few photos and videos. Also at the event was a short video display of our SAVE OUR TREES story in pictures so far, warning it does contain some upsetting images.

It includes the campaigners protesting, trees being felled, our meetings at councils and the developer, and some highlights of our activities to raise funds and awareness since the felling was paused. With the pause coming to an end and the possibility of the rest of the trees being felled from 1st September, we held a Tree Action Public Information Event to keep our supporters updated during a period of calm, before the battles that could be. Have a watch.

Keeping in touch

For more information go to our website or see our Facebook Page. To contact us please fill in the form below:

You can also send us an email or call 07954 082802 if you prefer.

Thank you for your support!