Extinction Rebellion protesters spend weeks living in tree on A303 - and have no plans to leave

The protestors have been living in the tree for two weeks Credit: Simon Bramwell

A group of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have spent two weeks living in an oak tree in Somerset in a bid to stop it from being removed.

The tree, which is near Sparkford, is due to be cut down by National Highways as part of a scheme to upgrade the A303.

Members of XR have now been taking turns camping in the tree for two weeks - with a team on the ground supporting those living within its branches.

National Highways says it respects people's right to process and is working with police, relevant authorities and those protesting to ensure everyone is safe.

Speaking from her camp inside the tree, campaigner Indra Donfranscesco told ITV News West Country: "We can't afford to lose a healthy tree.

"A tree that size would provide enough oxygen in a year for a family of five. There is also so much bio-diversity which is reliant on the tree."

She said there were bailiffs on the site this morning (25 July) - but the group have no plans to move.

"There's four of us currently in the tree," she said. "It's going to take them a while to move us even with a specially-trained climbing team."

She said morale is "wonderful" among the protesters, adding: "When you are saving trees you are always in the right.

"We are people that are constantly concerned about climate change and fossil fuels, so actually to be able to do something physically does your morale quite good."

A group of XR members are also staying on the ground, supporting those living in the tree.

The protesters say the tree could be as old as 400 to 450 years but is not subject to a tree protection order.

Tree surgeon Dav is also staying inside the tree, which he described as a "magnificent being".

"This is one of the biggest oak trees I've seen in the country, it has to be protected," he said.

What have National Highways said?

A spokesperson said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and are one of the largest tree planting organisations in the UK, with plans to plant an extra three million trees by 2030.

"We only cut back or fell trees where it is essential to keep people safe, protect the environment or where it is necessary to allow us to improve journeys.  

The spokesperson added: “Where we plan to remove old trees on the A303 Sparkford scheme, we have made sure to investigate other possibilities to see if we can avoid removal.

"Sadly, that was not possible on this occasion. We continue to work with ecologists and other specialists to make sure our environmental mitigations are as thorough and beneficial as possible.”