Fight to save 16 trees from Plymouth council reaches High Court finale
The fight to give 110 stumps and 16 remaining trees in Plymouth a reprieve from the chop by the council reaches its final hours at a High Court hearing on Friday.
Campaigners are hoping for an extension to a last-minute injunction secured last week after the council had already felled 110 trees in a 1am operation despite public opposition.
The injunction means a stay of execution for the remaining 16 trees while a judicial review takes place into the council’s decision making.
If the High Court rules in the council’s favour, cutting of the trees could resume at the site within hours.
Campaigners are also hoping to save the stumps of the 110 trees that were already chopped down, and secure an ecological assessment before any of the branches and debris are cleared.
“We would hope that the stumps get left as well because we view them as living trees still,” said Alice Goodenough, a lawyer for the campaign. “The root systems are still there and they can re-sprout.”
She added: “If they are going to remove the branches and felled trees and stumps then they need to have done a proper ecological assessment first.”
“They’ve accepted there are nesting birds in some of the trees that are left but they’ve chopped down trees immediately adjacent.
“What that removal process and the stump-grinding process will do to those birds needs to be properly assessed.”
Ali White from campaign group Save the Trees of Armada Way, who are fundraising for the judicial review, said protests would be planned outside the High Court on Friday.
“A few people are staying around in case it goes badly, to keep an eye on stuff. We know the council like to work quick,” she said. “But I’m optimistic that it won’t come down to any more trees being cut.”
“It’s kind of outrageous that they’re pushing for it, given the outcry.”
The trees were cut down just hours after the end of a public engagement process, and after Richard Bingley, the council’s leader, signed an executive order allowing the scheme to proceed.
Mr Bingley has since announced that he will resign from his position on the council effective Monday, the day he faces a no confidence vote in his leadership in the wake of the tree felling.
The council has indicated that it will not change its position on the need to chop the trees, despite Mr Bingley’s resignation.
Plymouth City Council has defended the need to chop down the 129 trees as part of a £12.7 million regeneration of Armada Way that it said would “transform this tired and dated city centre route”.
The council declined to comment until after the end of the hearing.