Charles "Ledge" Ledger in the beech tree.  Picture by Neil Silk  113901a
Charles "Ledge" Ledger in the beech tree. Picture by Neil Silk 113901a

A DATE has been set for a showdown on Irton’s controversial beech tree.

A week after the sit-in protest began, a High Court injunction was yesterday pinned to it, stating that felling or removal can take place from 4pm this Friday.

It also says that anyone who tries to prevent North Yorkshire County Council from felling the 80-year-old tree may be fined or sent to prison.

A treetop sit-in is now into its second week, with protester Charles Ledger replacing Mark “Snoz” Snow in the tree’s branches on Saturday. Snoz is taking legal advice and told the Evening News that if he can be on the site on Friday, he will.

He said: “I will do whatever I can legally. If I can’t be on the scene I’ll be there in spirit.

“The legal notice is pretty much as we expected. We’ve got a few things to counter it and I’m taking advice from various sources.”

Snoz, a 36-year-old carpenter, of St John’s Road, said he takes issue with the council’s statement that the tree is not a bat roost.

He said: “If a survey has not been done during the summer, it should be classed as inconclusive.

“It could be a temporary roost - there are definitely bats flying around in the area. I don’t believe they’ve done a full survey.”

He also believes that an entomological study should have been done to look at the tree’s insect life.

Snoz said that he was in touch with fellow protester Mr Ledger, who climbed into the tree as he came down.

He said: “Charles is doing an outstanding job. I was in touch with him earlier on the phone and he’s in high spirits.

“I’ve also popped down there to offer some moral support.”

Snoz added that support has been coming in for the cause from far and wide - including a message from Yorkshire-born artist David Hockney.

He said: “I’ve had messages and emails from all over. People have been sending mail to ‘the man in the tree’ and Charles got a Kit Kat in the post.

“I think we’ve got the people of Scarborough behind us - it’s been amazing.”

Despite the High Court injunction, Snoz is still positive that the tree could be given a reprieve at the 11th hour.

The injunction notice yesterday offered a let-out clause, saying that it was possible until 4pm today to explain to the High Court at the Strand in London “why there is no other appropriate manner of abating the nuisance other than felling” the tree.

He said: “I’m still hopeful. I wouldn’t have gone up there if I didn’t think there was a great injustice going on.

“Lots of people have said they’ll go an protect the tree in a peaceful fashion. There will be plenty of people there if it comes to the chop.”

The tree has been the subject of a long-running legal battle between villagers, two local authorities, the parish council and villagers, and the nearby homeowner, who successfully applied to a judge to have the beech cut down as he claimed its roots were damaging drains and a wall at his home.

The story was first covered by the Evening News in 2005.