Controversial tree felling starts for Northamptonshire dual carriageway after protesters arrested

Tree felling Stanton Cross dual carriageway
Work to chop down the trees began around 1pm. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police have arrested protesters who blocked a road to stop contractors from felling dozens of trees to make way for a dual carriageway.

Despite the ongoing protests over the controversial tree felling, work to chop them down began around lunchtime.

A group of around a dozen campaigners stopped lorries from getting to the site in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, where workers were due to chop down more than 60 trees.

The trees were due to be cleared during work on the road, which is part of the nearby Stanton Cross housing development.

Campaigners say the line of lime trees on The Walks has been there for at least 80 years, with the oldest of them dating back to 1847, and argue that their felling would be "complete and utter vandalism".

Developers say the removal of the trees is part of the approved plans for the development, and would improve infrastructure in the area.

Police arrested four people on Wednesday morning on suspicion of aggravated trespass, with the remaining protesters moved off the road.

Four protesters were arrested in February, including an 84-year-old man. Credit: Credit: ITV News

There were tree protection orders in place but it was overridden due to the perceived importance of the dual carriageway for the development.

Jason Smithers, leader of North Northamptonshire Council, has said that while he did not want to see trees "cut down needlessly", the development needed to happen to make way for affordable housing.

He added that the development would include hundreds of new trees, as well as parks and green spaces, with homebuilders contributing more than £200m in infrastructure improvements.

Stanton Cross is a development which is seeing around 3,600 new homes built on the outskirts of Wellingborough.

The estate came under criticism recently, when an Anglian Water sewer pipe failed, leaving a one-metre diameter pipe system snaking through the development.

A spokesperson from Stanton Cross said 390 new trees planted last summer as part of the Queen's Canopy initiative.

Officers will continue to remain at the scene to oversee a peaceful protest, said Northamptonshire Police.

An 84-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman from Wellingborough and a 67-year-old man from Kettering were taken into police custody.

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