THE future of Irton’s controversial Beech tree hangs in the balance as a High Court deadline draws closer.
Parties on both sides have been eagerly awaiting a High Court decision on whether or not the 80-year-old tree should be felled after 4pm today.
As the deadline loomed, another new face appeared in the tree yesterday.
Protester Paul Ganton was replaced by Scarborough musician Rob Simpson, who said he wanted to “do a shift” in the branches.
He told the Evening News: “We don’t want the county council to come and cut it down while there’s nobody in it.
“I’m planning on staying here until we know the outcome of the legal appeal.”
Mr Simpson added that he thinks the tree is “beautiful” and is “happy to support such a good cause”.
Original treetop protester Mark “Snoz” Snow said he was delighted to see people following in his footsteps.
He said: “It’s brilliant – it just goes to show how many people are willing to sacrifice a bit of their time.
“I’m still hopeful the tree can be saved. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
At the time of going to press, there had been no indication of a decision by the Honourable Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart.
Documents had to be passed to him by 4pm on Wednesday, which caused a last-minute rush by protesters to fax a key report when they were told it had not been included in the county council’s statement.
The issue is still causing strong opinions on both sides.
Ian Morely, a mechanical fitter, of Glenside, contacted the Evening News to say how strongly he feels it should be felled.
He said: “It should be cut down due to the spiralling costs. If it’s approaching £300,000, they could have planted a whole forest of trees for that.
“Why should people have to foot the bill?”
He also took issue with remembrance crosses being fixed to the tree, branding it disrespectful.
However, Helen Stevens, of animal campaign group South West Animal Protection, was demanding a full, up-to-date wildlife survey to be carried out.
Although the county council has confirmed that the tree is not a bat roost, wood pigeons are nesting in the tree and Helen also raised concerns about door mice and squirrels which may live in the tree.
“Time is of the essence,” she said. “We are concerned about the tree being felled and what becomes of the mammals residing in it. We have got to learn to live with nature.”