THE final protestor trying to save a 100-year-old beech tree at Irton, near Scarborough, is a Bridlington teenager.
17-year-old Vikki “Beech nut” Welsh, from Bridlington, was the fifth person to climb the tree and spent four nights above ground in an attempt to save it from being felled.
Wrapped in a blanket, Vikki appeared cold and crestfallen as the protesters finally accepted defeat as news filtered through that a last-gasp attempt to grant the tree a stay of execution had failed.
“I’m distraught. I love the environment and nature, I just did what’s right,” a tearful Vikki said. “We have got to accept that there is nothing more we can do.
“This isn’t the end - it’s the beginning. We have set up a foundation to make sure we can safeguard other trees. We hope we can make a difference.”
Despite a threat of arrest and prison, police helped Vikki down and took no action against the teenager.
Speaking later on the ‘Save the Irton Beech Tree’ Facebook page, Vikki said: “We could have saved this tree today for £10k but we did not have the money, instead, £250k has been spent to destroy and kill this tree. This is complete injustice”
Locals in Irton have fought to save what they saw as the focal point of their small village, after a judge ordered North Yorkshire County Council in August to fell the tree over fears that it was causing damage to a nearby property.
The protests have made national news since the first campaigner, Mark “Snoz” Snow, climbed the tree two weeks ago. There had been an attempt to raise £10,000 so a High Court injunction to remove protesters, granted last week, could be challenged but the fund fell well short – convincing Vikki to climb down on Tuesday morning.
Irton resident Richard Harrison said: “We hope we are going to be able to plant some new trees at the bottom of the village which we will name after the people who have been up the beech tree. What they have done is superb.”