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Weymouth relief road protesters take to the trees
PROTESTERS have set up a camp in the trees to protect ancient woodland from being destroyed for the Weymouth relief road.
Three men made it over a fence and past security staff in the Two-Mile Coppice before scaling the trees they want to save.
They used climbing equipment to make it up the trees and have tied up sheeting to sleep on.
One of the men, Nick Pepper, 41, who is from Weymouth originally but now lives in Bristol, intends to stay in the trees until Dorset County Council decides against building the road.
He told the Echo from the trees: “I’m here to try and stop them chopping down this Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“We’ve had men here with chainsaws and a helicopter above as they are trying to get us to leave.
“But enough is enough as there is only five per cent of our ancient woodland left. “When will it stop?
“When this is gone it’s gone forever and these are the lungs of the earth so it’s ecological suicide. They are already cutting trees down but this is wrong.”
Another protester, known as ‘Noddy,’ said he also lived in Weymouth previously and was going to stay in the trees until the council decided against building the road.
He added: “People should come and join the protest as it’s their wood that’s being destroyed.
“This is the right thing to do as it is a matter of conscience.”
A county council spokesman said they had already asked eight people to leave part of the wood where clearance work is being done when the protestors made it into the trees.
She said the council is assessing its position on how to safely and legally remove them and Dorset Police, who have a presence in the wood, are advising.
Head of highways Andy Ackerman said the tree coppicing work is continuing.
He said: “These people are not entitled to be on the land and for their own safety we are seeking advice on the best way to remove them.
“The Weymouth relief road will improve the reliability of journey times and help support public transport.
“It has overwhelming support from local residents and businesses and the scheme has gone through every necessary procedure including a public inquiry.
“This route has been chosen for the road so that it will have the least possible impact on local wildlife.
“We are doing everything we can to salvage and reuse materials taken from the western edge strip of woodland.
“Living stumps will be relocated as will deadwood for habitat and woodland soils and oak timber will be used for a new bat roost.”
The council started clearing the wood on Monday but a day later work stopped when the Woodland Trust told them they did not have the legal right to enter the Two-Mile Coppice.
The Government approved a compulsory purchase order to buy a stretch of the woodland but the trust insisted the purchase had not been completed and a notice of entry was required.
The notice was provided and workers returned with chainsaws yesterday.