Tree dwellers are caught napping as the felling begins
A six-month standoff between Wicklow County Council and environmental protesters ended when the local authority began a major tree felling programme at Glen of the Downs.
Eco-campaigners were caught napping in early morning, when a large team of local authority workers moved in with chainsaws to fell trees along the route of the planned N11 widening programme through the north Wicklow glen.
A number of the campaigners who have been occupying tree houses and tents at Glen of the Downs in their protest, attempted to hinder the effort by climbing condemned trees in the line of the felling programme, but as the morning progressed it became clear that the 40 strong local authority team were intent to work around them and leave the occupied trees standing for the time being at least.
More than a dozen gardai were present throughout the operation too, but Garda Superintendent Phil Moynihan said that their only function was to prevent any breaches of the peace, and to prevent obstruction along the busy main Wicklow to Dublin Road.
Tree protesters confided that they had been caught unawares by the council move, and that less than 10 protesters were at the camp when the local authority move in.
An intensive morning of networking was started almost immediately by supporters of the protest however, with the campaigners predicting that there would be dozens more at the site before the day was out.
Michael, who has been living in a tree house for the past four months said that they would also work throughout the night to secure the site as best they could.
Meanwhile, lawyers acting for the campaigners were understood to be going to the High Court yesterday morning to seek an order restraining Wicklow County Council from continuing with their felling operation.
Upwards of 1,500 trees are scheduled to be felled to accommodate the planned road widening.