Police were called after a row broke out over a clump of trees on a residential street in south Manchester, and a group of locals tied themselves to them in an attempt to prevent them from being cut down.
Horrified neighbors took action against the felling of trees on the grounds of a property at Birch Polygon in Rusholme. The ‘peaceful’ protest began on Wednesday when three locals initially tied themselves to trees upon realizing what the workers were doing.
Their number then grew to more than half a dozen on Thursday morning after Wednesday night and overnight efforts to prevent trees from falling by official means.
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Local councilor Jill Lovecy told the Manchester evening news that attempts to obtain a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) were unsuccessful.
A Manchester City Council spokesperson confirmed they were assessed by an arborist but did not meet the necessary requirements for a TPO.
In what witnesses have described as “tense” scenes, protesters remained tied to trees as work was carried out around them on Thursday morning with police present on the scene.
The protesters said officers initially told them it was not a criminal matter, but could be classified as trespassing if they did not leave their property when the owner asked them to.
And when the owner came to the street early Thursday afternoon they ended the protest of their own free will.
A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) spokesman confirmed officers attended but said the protesters left of their own free will and no arrests were made.
The MEN understands that there were around 20 trees on the site, which is a multi-occupancy house housing students with a large garden, and around a dozen had been felled as of Thursday night. However, a nearby resident said Friday morning that they had all been removed.
One of the locals involved in the protest, named Jay, told MEN: “They started making loud noises around 9:30 in the morning (on Wednesday). We all knew there would be work going on, but we underestimated it.”
“We just thought they were doing some pruning or something. I went outside and one of my neighbors was really upset about it, he would point and say they were cutting down the trees. I didn’t really process at the time they were.
“My housemate and I went out to talk to them, the person who runs the tree trimming company. We asked to speak to the owner and they said they couldn’t.”
“I went back inside and could see how much they were destroying. I went outside and asked if there was anything I could do about it. Then I asked what we would do if he tied me to the tree.
“And he said, ‘I don’t know what I would do.’ So I went inside, grabbed a jacket, pulled out a rope, and tied myself to the tree.
“Everyone is very, very upset about it,” he added. “People were walking down the street and saying how much they supported us. People were also texting and calling us. Nobody wanted this to happen.”
Jay joined two others for the Wednesday protest that lasted about four hours before the workers left the site. However, they resumed their action and were joined by several others with seven people tied to different trees to the side of the property at one point this morning (Thursday).
They said that when they resumed their action on Thursday, two of the trees they had been trying to protect had been felled.
Another of those involved, who identified herself as Duchess, said it was a “community response.” “Is ‘my land and my garden’ really a justification when we’re in a climate crisis when we need green areas in cities, and residents haven’t been notified when this happens and how many trees are being felled beforehand.
“In a climate crisis, you shouldn’t be able to take down trees simply because you want them removed.
Another protester named Sophie said: “Even though those trees are being cut down, it’s part of a bigger fight if we can somehow protect all the trees in the city, there has to be a law, it really should be illegal to do so.” what they have done. I really should.”
Locals also raised concerns about the potential for future development on the site. According to the city’s planning portal, there are no pending planning applications for the site.
Attempts by the MEN to contact the owner of the property were unsuccessful.
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