The ‘tree man’ is hit with the law

Irton Tree notice'Villager look at and photograph  a copy of the notice pinned to the tree.'Picture by Neil Silk  113872c'23/09/11

Irton Tree notice'Villager look at and photograph a copy of the notice pinned to the tree.'Picture by Neil Silk 113872c'23/09/11

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LEGAL proceedings were initiated yesterday against Irton’s tree man Mark “Snoz” Snow.

A North Yorkshire County Council officer, accompanied by a police officer, arrived yesterday afternoon at the beech tree which Snoz has called home since Tuesday morning.

Irton Tree notice'The notice of intent from North Yorkshire County Council that was served this afternoon to Mark Snow up the tree in Irton'Picture by Neil Silk  113872b'23/09/11

Irton Tree notice'The notice of intent from North Yorkshire County Council that was served this afternoon to Mark Snow up the tree in Irton'Picture by Neil Silk 113872b'23/09/11

They pinned a notice of the council’s intention to obtain an injunction against Snoz to the tree. It was then passed up to him using a plastic bag and a rope.

“I’ll be taking legal advice before I decide what to do next,” said Snoz, minutes after he was served with the document.

“I’m willing to stay up here indefinitely. I’m comfortable and I’m getting all the sleep I need. It seems to be getting easier.”

A spokesperson for the county council said: “We have served notice on Mr Snow and on any others who might climb into the tree at Irton that we have applied to the court for an injunction to help us to carry out the requirement of the court order to fell the tree.”

It is understood that the county council is now awaiting a slot at London’s High Court so that their application for an injunction can be heard.

Snoz said he is being advised by the Environmental Law Foundation - an independent London-based charity which employs a network of lawyers specialising in environmental matters.

Cllr Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways, said that the application was being held up by legal proceedings linked to the Dale Farm travellers’ site in Essex.

“We will be looking to execute our legal obligation to fell the tree,” he added.

Council contractors arrived on Tuesday morning to execute a court order to chop down the beech tree, after a judge upheld an application from nearby homeowners to have it felled.

He branded it a “public nuisance” after hearing that it was damaging an outside wall and drains.

However Snoz ascended the tree and has remained there ever since, granting the tree a stay of execution.

Members of the Irton community have continued to support Snoz from ground level throughout his protest.

Yesterday morning several journalists from the national media descended on Irton, with some even hiring a cherry picker to get closer to Snoz.

“It’s been a feeding frenzy, there’s been a constant stream of people,” Snoz, a 36-year-old carpenter added.

A passing tree surgeon, Colin Zoeller of STS Tree Surgeons, said the 80-year-old tree should not be cut down.

“I cut trees down for a living, but there’s no way they should be cutting this one down,” he said. “They could get root barriers.”

Snoz revealed that he received a post card from supporters in Sheffield yesterday, after they read about his protest. It was addressed to Snoz, The Beech Tree, Main Street, Irton.

Former county councillor Mick Haigh was one of the eye-witnesses who saw Snoz served with the document.

“It looks like the county council are making fools of themselves,” he said. “They talk about local decision making, but it seems almost everyone in Irton wants to keep this tree.”

The homeowners who successfully applied to have the tree removed, Gerald and Norah Hazelwood, have so far not made any comment.