The last remaining Norway maple tree on Lower Ashley Road, one of five such trees known as the M32 Maples for their proximity to the M32 motorway, has been felled this morning, Monday 1st March.
According to a source, an individual, thought to be a rogue builder, arrived at the tree at midnight on the 28th of February and removed the defences put up by activists before beginning to fell the tree with a chainsaw.
One activist arrived at 4am and climbed into the tree. However, further help was prevented from arriving by a heavy police presence. Precisely who called the police or why they were there is unclear.
Later in the morning, professional tree surgeons Gristwood & Toms Ltd arrived to finish felling the tree which was, by that point, beyond saving.
The M32 Maples were originally scheduled for felling after the developer who owns the land on which they sit was given planning permission to build a block of affordable housing.
The trees have been protected and occupied by activists and local residents, organised under the group Save the M32 Maples, since spring 2019, who insist that social housing should not come at the expense of trees and clean air. They also claim to hold evidence that the trees actually sit on land originally owned by Bristol City Council, and question how this land was transferred to the property developer.
According to the Bristol Tree Forum website, the first two trees were felled in December 2019, with two more felled in November 2020.