Plymouth City Council fights to continue work after tree felling stopped by injunction

170323 Armada Way BPM Media
Environmental campaigners have been left angered after the council chopped down hundreds of trees in Plymouth city centre. Credit: BPM Media

Plymouth City Council says it cannot carry on with its removal of trees in the city centre until an injunction is lifted.

On Tuesday night (March 14), Plymouth City Council ordered contractors to fell a total of 110 trees to make way for a multi-million-pound regeneration project.

Campaign group STRAW (Save the Trees of Armada Way) got an injunction at 1am to halt the chopping, but by that time only 12 trees remained.

  • Watch as contractors fence off Armada Way as trees are removed

The authority says it has now been prevented from tidying the site or removing the trees after the injunction imposed by the High Court.

A spokesperson said: "We are unable to tidy the site or remove the felled trees until the outcome of the court hearing which will take place next Friday.

"STRAW have been approached to agree that this is not prevented by the current injunction or to agree any necessary variation to it to allow removal of felled trees, but have refused.

"The council will be seeking to have the current injunction discharged."

Contractors began cutting down the trees in the city centre during the night. Credit: Michelle Lane

STRAW said they did not agree to the removal because the felled trees still have wildlife living in them and the group is concerned the removal operation could cause damage to the trees still standing.

Straw’s Mark Thomas said: "We will keep fighting while there is a single tree left to save."

The Green Party said councillors were given no time to scrutinise the executive decision to chop the trees down, ordered by the Conservative leader of Plymouth City Council Richard Bingley.

The Greens have now called for an independent inquiry into the decision-making behind the felling of the trees, describing it as "ecological vandalism".

Plymouth City Council said the felling needed to happen to make way for the redevelopment of Armada Way.

The authority said it will replace the trees with 169 'semi-mature' trees - but more than 8,000 people signed a petition to save the existing trees.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the council said: "The plan had been to remove all the felled trees and shave off and make safe any stumps along the main pedestrian routes once all the trees had come down before the start of the working day. Unfortunately, the injunction meant we had to stop work.

"The contractors cleaned up the site and installed more fencing to ensure the felled wood is out of bounds.

"Other trees that remain are three which have bird nests and 24 which were due to remain under the revised plans.

The stump of a tree which has been chopped down in Armada Way. Credit: BPM Media

"Following an engagement programme, the final design was changed to include 169 semi-mature new trees to be planted, a revised tree planting schedule and a commitment to investigate wider tree planting in the city centre.

"This means an additional 19 semi-mature trees, including more evergreens and wider canopy trees as well as keeping another existing tree."

Plymouth City Council and Straw will meet in court on 24 March. Until then the injunction, served on the local authority as it chopped down city centre trees, prevents the fallen trees from being removed.

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