Campaigners who slept inside the giant oak for two nights have spoken out after felling started on the a 600-year-old tree in Bretton.
Security guards from Business Watch, employed by Peterborough City Council, cordoned off the area surrounding the oak tree in Ringwood in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Two campaigners from the global environmental activism group Extinction Rebellion, who had been sleeping in the tree since Monday (June 27), came down from the tree at around 1.20pm yesterday, before contractors arrived later to begin work to cut it down.
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“They [Cambridgeshire Police] said if we could get down ourselves safely, they would prefer that rather than having to come up and get us down,” one of the Extinction Rebellion campaigners, who spent three days in the tree and goes by the nickname, ‘Shrike’, said.
"They talked about doing us for aggravated trespass, which is where you enter private property and disrupt work. We’ve been here for three days and it’s not private property - it’s public.”
Tree surgeons used chainsaws to cut down branches from the tree before throwing them to the ground to be shredded.
"This is the last ancient oak of the Bretton woodland that used to be here,” ‘Shrike’, whose nickname is inspired by a bird, said.
“There used to be trees all along here, which have all been felled one at a time. It’s the last of them.
"Peterborough has been declared a climate emergency because we do things like this – it’s a massive shame.”
Earlier in the week, a County Court judge dismissed the case of the protesters to save the tree due to a lack of jurisdiction to make a ruling on the case. The campaigners were ordered to pay £5,000 to cover the cost of court proceedings.
“We would’ve stayed up there longer but the biggest issue has been the courts,” ‘Shrike’ said. “After getting our case to court, we were told it was the wrong court.
"It costs almost £10,000 to get to the court we need to be in and we’re just normal people - we can’t afford that.”
‘Shrike’ slept in a hammock suspended from the tree for two nights and he was sent provisions, such as cups of tea, by the other campaigners camping on the ground via a rope system.
He also claimed someone tried to steal his provisions backpack during his first night in the tree.
“[One person] yanked on my safety line and down came my rucksack,” he said. “I pulled myself up and then my backpack but he yanked on it.
"I got it back the following day.”