Update: Work starts to cut down Irton’s beech tree

Breaking News 11pm, Tuesday 4th:
CONTRACTORS have started work to cut down Irton’s beech tree.
Vicki “Beechnut” Welsh spent four nights in the tree but came down at 10.10am today to applause from villagers, who have now accepted defeat in their battle to save the tree.
The tree was fenced-off and felled, to tears - video.

4 October 2011
A PROTESTER who is the latest to sit in the branches of a threatened tree in Irton yesterday demanded answers to four questions – one of which was aimed squarely at the Prime Minister – before she leaves her leafy home.

The 17-year-old Bridlington girl, who is known only as Beech Nut, had been there since Friday and is the fifth treetop protester since the start of the sit-in two weeks ago today.

She said that a special appeal had also been set up. She said: “I am here to launch the Irton Tree Foundation and would like to appeal for any help with our cause.”

Beech Nut said she wanted to dispel any misconceptions that the protest had cost council taxpayers £250,000 – because their protest began after the decision to fell the tree had been taken.

She added that, while they did not roost in the tree, bats used it as a primary feeding site. She said: “I’d like to see the results of a reputable bat survey.”

Beech Nut said that the villagers had been treated with disrespect and deserved answers. She asked: “Has the evidence been seen by a high court judge?”

And in a question directed at Prime Minister David Cameron she asked about the validity of tree preservation orders – the beech tree was the subject of an order but it was overruled by a judge. She said: “It’s not just about this tree, in this village, it’s about all trees in England.”

A North Yorkshire County Council representative read out a statement on Friday which said that anyone preventing the tree felling, which is likely to take place by the end of this week, could face a prison sentence.

Tree supporters have taken separate legal advice to challenge the court decision and are waiting to hear the results.

Irton resident David Parker said that they would continue the protest until the first “chainsaw touched the trunk”. He added: “We’ve been told that some time this week the tree will definitely be felled but no official person has come here so far.”

He said that they would continue to look into every legal avenue that they possibly could. He said: “We are quite within our rights to do so. We have a right to object peacefully against something we disagree with. We will act within the law.”

The tree has been the subject of a long-running legal battle between villagers, two local authorities and a nearby homeowner, who successfully applied to a judge to have the beech cut down.

People who would like to donate to the Irton Tree Foundation can do so through any branch of HSBC by using the sort code 40-40-22 and account number 91752707.