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Trees that survived Plymouth ‘midnight massacre’ could be removed for cycle lane

Plymouth trees after they were cut down - Trees that survived Plymouth massacre could be removed for cycle lane
The felling of over 100 trees in March was described as 'despicable' - Wayne Perry

Trees that survived a “midnight massacre” in Plymouth could be relocated to make way for a cycle and pedestrian route under new plans from the Labour led council.

Six trees are expected to be relocated in the city centre’s Armada Way, where more than 100 trees were cut down during the night in March this year, prompting a High Court injunction.

Campaigners said they had previous assurances from Labour, who took over from the Conservative council in the wake of the felling, that they would keep the remaining trees “no caveats”.

But under a new plan, the six trees will be taken out to make way for a sustainable urban drainage system to help stop flooding, and because some of them cross a proposed cycle and pedestrian route.

The relocation will involve digging up the whole tree including its root ball and moving it to a different site, where it is hoped it will continue to grow.

Ali White, who leads campaign group Save the Trees of Armada Way, said a proposal to translocate the original group of trees had been rejected because it was deemed unlikely to succeed.

“It certainly seemed like Plymouth Labour didn’t lift a finger to save the trees but instead used the situation to their advantage politically,” she said.

“One councillor said in a meeting that they had been told by their experts and the Woodland Trust that they would die. No mincing his words,” she added. “The reason they want them moved appears to be due to design which could presumably be modified.

“It is a shame, that even now, the council do not see that these mature trees are an asset which should be incorporated into the new design.”

Trees cut down
The council's decision to cut down the trees caused widespread anger in the City - APEX

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said the relocation was a “vital aspect of the overall design” and the council had commissioned experts to ensure it was carried out successfully.

“We need to find the right balance between creating a modern-day city centre and one that has strong environmental credentials,” he said.

“We have spent lot of time over the past few months looking at how we can make it work. Moving these six trees is a vital aspect of the overall design and therefore we have commissioned experts in translocation to outline all the options and recommend how they think we can do it successfully.

“We have not only looked at how we move them, but crucially we have considered their new home, and what we need to do ensure their survival and we are prepared to invest money in giving these six trees a chance.”

More than 100 trees were cut down in March despite widespread public opposition, in a move branded “environmental vandalism”. It followed other high profile tree fellings by councils, including a multi-year battle in Sheffield to save hundreds of trees in the city centre.

The work was stopped by a midnight injunction that saved 22 trees, and led to a High Court ruling that the removal of the felled trees could only be carried out after an ecological assessment.

The former Conservative council leader had defended his actions, saying the removal of the trees was necessary for the rejuvenation of Plymouth’s city centre. In May he accused the new Labour leadership of “kowtowing to a tiny minority of extremist environmental protesters” over its decision to reconsider the development plans.

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