Monday, 20 May 2024

Why Did Plymouth City Council Destroy The Environment?

Armada Way in Plymouth, Devon. Earlier this month the local Tory council destroyed much of the urban forest which formed a walkway from the sea to the city centre. Now only about a dozen trees are left standing. Why?

ON THE NIGHT of 14th March, Plymouth City Council in Devon spent five hours destroying an urban forest.   

Despite wide-scale local opposition, the area was cordoned off and both police & security guards were brought in.  The council then felled nearly 120 healthy mature trees.  These trees formed a walkway from the sea to the city centre along Armada Way.   

Thanks to the quick thinking of a local environmental group called STRAW (Save the Trees of Armada Way) a last-minute high court injunction was served which saved around a dozen trees.   

The fate of the remaining trees will be decided sometime in the future.  A judicial review is due to be held sometime in the summer.  

As everyone knows, environmental concerns are high on the political agenda.  So why did the Tory Council in Plymouth commit such an act of environmental destruction?  

According to the council, it is all part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of Armada Way.  Apparently the regeneration plan for the area includes new walk ways & cycle routes.  However, many people are wondering why these couldn’t have gone beside the existing trees?  

Redevelopment work had started some time ago but was halted last November.  This was because over 10,000 people had signed a petition calling for the planned tree-felling to be stopped.  

This led to the council conducting a ‘community engagement’ programme in February.  In early March they announced that they were finalising various reports including the results of the engagement programme.  

Local environmental campaigners from STRAW – https://www.facebook.com/strawplymouth – called the engagement programme an ‘insult’ to the people of Plymouth & claimed that the council was more interested in not missing out on nearly three million pounds worth of funding.  

STRAW also believes that the council has always aimed to destroy the trees: ‘At the start of the design stage no attempt was ever made to keep the trees.  Even designs from 2017, before they had even applied for funding, would have required all the trees to be removed.’  

It will be interesting to see how the judicial review goes later on this year.  Unfortunately, it won’t be able to bring back the destroyed trees – but it might compel the council to replant the 120 trees it felled.  

Even more interesting will be the local council elections in early May.  If public anger is still at a peak it could spell real political trouble for the Tories in Plymouth.

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