Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton Airport tree felling: Protestors march against Marlhill Copse plans

Marhill Copse protest
Image caption About 30 protestors marched four miles to protest against the tree felling

Protestors have marched against plans to fell a number of trees in ancient woodland owned by Southampton Airport.

They claim the airport purchased Marlhill Copse to clear part of the area for its proposed runway expansion.

About 30 campaigners banged drums, called out "the trees are coming" and handed out fabric leaves to the public during the four-mile march.

The airport said it received expert advice that these trees were unsafe to both woodland users and to aircraft.

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth and Friends of Marlhill Copse marched from the edge of Marlhill Copse, which was closed last month to the public because of "hazardous tree debris", to the city's Guildhall.

Image caption The theme of the protest was to "be the trees", campaigners said

The theme of the march was to "be the trees ... their voices and their hope in a sustainable future".

Heidi Wyldewood, who calls herself a "sacred activist", held a silent ceremony by the copse before and after the march.

"We need these places to keep us emotionally and mentally healthy. All life is sacred and we need to be far more in tune with that reality than corporate greed and political power struggles," she said.

Image caption Heidi Wyldewood held a ceremony before and after the march

Another protestor, Sharon Keenan, said: "I've been to many public meetings [about Southampton airport's expansion plans] and the airport are not behaving in the best interests of the community, and the trees are part of our community."

A spokesman for Southampton airport, which created a video explaining why it was starting "woodland management work" said an arboriculturist recommended a number of trees "needed to be managed as soon as possible".

He added that more trees would be planted and that the copse would be reopened by Spring 2020.

Southampton airport is due to submit airport expansion plans to Eastleigh Borough Council.

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