BANNER-WAVING campaigners banded together in a defiant protest against the loss of 62 trees as part of plans for 72 new homes in Shoebury.

Protestors formed a picket line in Campfield Road, Shoebury, as they protested against plans to cut down trees on the former Cantel Medical site. 

Developer Taylor Wimpey is behind plans to clear the site and build the new homes, but residents have repeatedly called for the trees to be safeguarded as a “valuable and essential habitat for birds, insects and wildlife”. 

Plans include 41 protected mature hawthorn and maple trees on top of an embankment at the outskirts of the site which is set to be levelled.

Shoebury resident and East Beach Residents’ Association spokesman, Louise Wilcox, 56, said: “We are going to have significant loss, we are losing the tree canopy cover, and it helps to absorb the polluted particulates and species of bats hunt there too.

“There is no question that Taylor Wimpey have done anything improper, but we are very disappointed that the council gave the planning permission because we have lost so many trees and we will continue to express our frustration and disappointment.

“We had a large protest in the summer, and we went down to the site on Saturday, the purpose was to draw attention to the situation, but we have lost the argument, and I can say that residents are very disappointed.

“There are two issues in the short term, they will lose a significant amount of biodiversity and tree canopy but with 70 homes on the site, if each one had a car that is 70 new cars and more pollution in the air, with less trees to absorb it.”

Southend resident and activist, Kevin Ryan, also attended the protest.  He said: “We cut down trees and we don’t replace them, where is wildlife expected to go, this site is important, it’s a corridor and a passage for wildlife and if that is cut off, it can alienate and kill animals.

“For example, badgers eat hedgehogs, if the hedgehogs can’t escape, they can’t survive, and this is about the entire food chain.”

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “Our proposals have been carefully considered following close consultation with Southend City Council and the local community.

"Preserving and enhancing biodiversity is a key consideration when we plan and build new developments and we have sought to protect and retain the highest quality trees on-site.

“Following an assessment by an independent arboriculturist, our proposals include the planting of 112 new trees and 540 hedges to replace the 62 low quality or dying trees that will be removed in line with our planning permission.

All but one of the mature trees, which is suffering from Ash Dieback, within the development boundary will be retained.”