Deputy Mayor defends environmental policy amid increased protests

By Luke Pawley, Samuel Gill and Reece Stafferton




The Deputy Mayor of Leicester has today defended the city council’s plans to cut down trees in the Cultural Quarter area of the city.

Environmental campaign group Leicester Friends of the Earth are planning to protest this Sunday (December 9) against the removal of trees from St George’s churchyard, although Cllr Adam Clarke insisted that the move would actually improve the area by creating more open and biodiverse spaces.

“It’s a very different issue in an urban environment, there are always competing demands,” Clarke said.

“We have 150,000 individual trees in our city and that doesn’t count the woodlands that we also have on top of that.

“Leicester is a very tree-rich city, St George’s Churchyard is a very specific case.

“It is also a site of anti-social behaviour and crime and there’s also an opportunity there to open up the churchyard to actually make it more biodiverse by putting in a wildflower meadow in the churchyard and creating something that is actually probably more environmentally appropriate for the area.

“But that does mean taking down some trees to open it out and make it a place where people want to be positively rather than those negative activities that are happening at the moment. But that is such a minor scheme given the vast tree management work that goes on under our trees and woodlands team in the city.”

While plans are in place to reduce the impacts of climate change across Leicester, Cllr Clarke has called on the government, business and other local authorities to work together to make a positive environmental change.

“We can’t act alone as a city, we need support from the government, we need support from business to help us all work together, and from other cities and other nations coming together to combat the impacts of climate change because it is a very real issue.

“We know what we do here not only has an impact here, but will also have an impact around the world in some of the most needed communities. It is incredibly important that we are part of the climate change agenda and making sure that we are doing our bit.”

Photo: Facebook / Friends of the Earth

While Leicester Friends of the Earth will be protesting against the council’s decision on Sunday, Cllr Clarke said he speaks regularly with Friends of the Earth about “their desires” and making sure that he understands “where they are coming from.”

Clarke also highlighted Leicester’s “excellent track record” to date in terms of fighting climate change, including the fact that Leicester was named as Britain’s first environment city and have since developed a positive reputation to reduce climate change through flood mitigation and transport infrastructure works.

In a written statement issued to the Leicestershire Press, Leicester Friends of the Earth said: “It is not too late to avert disaster, if we act decisively enough.  Individual lifestyle changes will not be enough; however, we need political action; and major changes to our social and economic system.  So, while encouraging and supporting individual lifestyle changes, Friends of the Earth’s primary focus is on political action.”


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