Trees survive after protests

WORKMEN from Doncaster Council were stopped in their tracks when protesters moved in to stop trees from being chopped down on Doncaster Common.

Workers with chainsaws were unable to carry out the job after demonstrators slipped inside the safety cordon on the common.

Police said they could not arrest them because they were not trespassing as the site is common land.

Mayor Peter Davies wanted to go ahead with the removal of the trees after receiving confirmation from the Forestry Commission that the proposed work did not require its consent.

However, the Commission has attached a number of conditions including that the tree felling takes place gradually, that the council works with Natural England to restore the heathland, and also that compensatory planting takes place.

Protester John Anderson slipped inside the cordon and pledged to remain there until it was too dark for the work to go ahead. He said campaigners would return today and do the same if necessary.

He said: "They managed to get two or three down, but I got inside the barrier. The police asked me to move, but they have been great, I stayed put and they accepted there was no trespass. The council wanted me arrested or moved on.

"But this area is ours - it is common land and it has been held in trust for the people of Doncaster since 1505.

"Anything happening here on this land should be done in consultation with the people of Doncaster - not because the mayor wants a better view of the racetrack."

Mr Anderson was the only person inside the cordon, but he said other protesters were ready to do the same in any other parts of the common where the council workmen moved on to.

He added: "We will do this again if they try to cut the trees down again."

The council tried to remove the trees last year.

Concerns were raised at the time that the actions may be illegal, and the Forestry Commission was contacted over the matter.

Protesters also halted the work then, again by going inside the workers' cordon.

Mr Davies said: "I am pleased that the Forestry Commission have agreed that we can go ahead with the proposed works.

"Doncaster Racecourse is one of our most important assets and events such as the St Leger Festival bring in millions of pounds to the local economy.

"I believe it is important that racegoers can enjoy an unrestricted view of the action as they would at any world-class racecourse.

"The number of letters of support I have received on this issue far outweighs the objections."

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