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Protesters occupy 600-year-old oak tree to prevent it from being cut down

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Protesters are occupying a 600-year-old oak tree to prevent it from being cut down - to build a £250m road.

The group have surrounded and scaled the tree - which now stands alone surrounded by flattened building works.

The work started in September 2021 on a £250M scheme to dual the A303 between the Podimore and Sparkford roundabouts in Somerset.

It followed approval by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP.

As part of the approved scheme put forward by National Highways an elderly oak tree near the Sparkford roundabout will be cut down.

It will make room for a new slip road connecting the new dual carriageway to the nearby Hazlegrove Prep School.

But protestors now in its branches wants National Highways to move the slip road.

One of the main protesters has posted numerous updates to his Twitter feed since the protest begin.

He said: ''This tree's stood watch over this land for 600 years.

''National Highways has deliberately misrepresented its age and size in order to avoid it's legal obligations.

"Those here are all willing to get arrested by resisting non-violently."

The protest has attracted the support of Extinction Rebellion and presenter Chris Packham.

Packham tweeted: ''This is a magnificent tree. It’s beautiful. It’s important, precious, a treasure.

"It needs to be cherished. Please National Highways, rethink this . It will never be replaced."

The agency - formerly known as Highways England - said it was committed to planting new trees to prevent biodiversity being lost from the A303 scheme, and that removing the tree was always "a last resort".

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