Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tree-top protest into seventh day

Whinter said he had taken part in two consultations over the plans

A tree-top protest to stop clearance work for a 84m relief road has entered its seventh day.

A man known as Noddy had been up the ancient tree in Two Mile Coppice, near Weymouth, since last Thursday but came down on Monday night.

Another man, calling himself Whinter, joined the protest on Monday and has remained and been joined another man.

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.

They've not listened to a word of the public consultations

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

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

He said: "They've not listened to a word of the public consultations.

"They have not listened to a word of the expert environmental reports or even the reports of the need for a road."

In a Dorset County Council report it stated: "There was full public consultation as part of the planning process."

A spokeswoman said the public inquiry found that non-road alternatives had been thoroughly investigated.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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