Is beech really so damaging?

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PEACE and quiet in a Scarborough village is regularly shattered by passing motorists honking their horns in support of an on-going, and quintessentially English, protest.

Last night was Mark “Snoz” Snow’s third in the branches of a 100-year-old beech tree which he is trying to save from the axe. It was due to be felled on Tuesday and North Yorkshire County Council is currently taking legal action to end the protest and force Mr Snow back down to earth. A spokesman said that, so far, there has been no progress. He added: “That’s still our line and that is what we are doing.”

Supporters of the tree believe that it is in good health and it is understood that bats, a protected species, may have made it their home. The tree had been the subject of a five-year battle after nearby homeowners first applied to have it removed – earlier this month a judge ruled in favour of the county council and ordered its removal.

Sue Wherrett, from York, said that overturning a tree preservation order (TPO) had set a dangerous precedent which could place many more healthy trees in danger of removal.

She added: “After 40 years of growth a beech tree’s roots grow only at a rate of a foot over several decades. Additionally it is well documented that a beech tree’s roots do not penetrate deep into the soil, it is top-loaded, one only has to look at the photographs taken at Irton to see this is true. It’s not too late to get a stay of execution for this tree.” (see page 13).

Mr Snow said he would stay in the tree until it was saved. He added: “As long as it takes to save the tree. There is a lot of people who want to take my place.”

He said that the support from people was brilliant. He said: “I wouldn’t be doing this without that.”

And he added he was feeling quite comfortable on his perch despite occasional rain showers. He said: “It rained a little bit but I had a tarpaulin and umbrellas.”