Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Two men continue sit-in protest

Winter up one of the ancient trees
A man known as Winter joined the sit-in protest on Monday

A protester who has spent five nights up an ancient Dorset tree has been joined by a second man in a bid to stop clearance work for a 84m relief road.

A man known as Winter joined sit-in protester Noddy at Two Mile Coppice, near Weymouth, on Monday.

The Weymouth relief road aims to ease traffic around Weymouth and Portland, which are hosting the Olympic sailing.

Dorset County Council said it was in the process of taking legal action against the campaigners.

Work to clear 1.5 acres of Two Mile Coppice - which contains 400-year-old trees - restarted on Thursday after a legal bid by the Woodland Trust temporarily suspended work for two days.

The council said about 60% of felling had been carried out and it hoped to complete the work by Christmas.

Noddy, 37, who has lived in Weymouth in the past, told the BBC News website that he was "good at the moment" and that he was pleased to have company from Winter.

I'm perfectly prepared to stay up here until Christmas
They were both sitting in one big open tree, he said.

"I've been up here a good while now, so it's good to have support.

"I've managed to keep warm despite it being really windy last night, although I didn't get much sleep with the tarpaulin flapping.

"Local people have sent up hot water bottles. It's brilliant, if it wasn't for local support, there wouldn't even be a point in doing this."

Winter said he had taken part twice in county council consultations about the road.

He said: "They didn't listen to a word we said. I tried to work within the system but the county council ignored us.

"I'm perfectly prepared to stay up here until Christmas."

Noddy up one of the ancient trees
Noddy has spent five nights sitting in the ancient woodland

One campaigner, 41-year-old Nick Pepper, came down from one of the trees on Saturday morning, while 35-year-old Nicky Baines ended his protest on Friday.

None of the men represented any particular group, they said.

The Woodland Trust has said the road is a "near act of vandalism" on the environment, and that ancient woodland is Britain's equivalent of the rainforest and cannot be replaced.

A county council spokeswoman said attempts were made by other protesters on Friday and Saturday to enter the western edge strip of the coppice but none was successful.

"At about 8am on Saturday 13 December, one of the protesters was persuaded to come down because of concerns for his welfare.

"He declined hospital treatment but was taken to Weymouth Police Station to be checked over by ambulance staff."

Trees and other vegetation were being removed from the western edge of Two Mile Coppice, when a legal challenge by the Woodland Trust halted work last Tuesday.

Completed felling work at Two Mile Coppice
The council says 60% of the felling work has been completed
The Woodland Trust, which owns the land, said the county council had failed to provide a Notice to Enter document when it began work a day earlier.

The coppice is among land in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) that Dorset County Council was given permission to buy, using compulsory purchase orders, in September.

But until the orders are processed, the land still belongs to the trust. The correct documentation was later provided and work was allowed to restart.

Environmental groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), lost a High Court legal bid to stop the road in 2007.

A public inquiry followed, which ended in March 2008, but many residents and businesses said they supported the plan for the road.

Work is due to start in spring 2009, if the Department for Transport (DfT) gives the funding.

Print Sponsor

Work restarts on Olympic road
09 Dec 08 |  Dorset
Relief road excavation to start
24 Sep 08 |  Dorset

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