Wood you leave our trees alone!

Anthony Milek of Lady Heton Drive.
Anthony Milek of Lady Heton Drive.
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A student has been keeping a treeside vigil to stop the felling of one of the few remaining trees behind his family home.

Anthony Milek, 19, decided to take a stand after workmen started cutting down trees on the land behind his house.

The border of the private field behind Lady Heton Drive, Mirfield, was full of around 30 trees until last week – now Mr Milek is guarding one of the few that remain.

He said: “It’s been there my whole life. I’ve sat in it since I was a kid.”

Mr Milek said he was told to move for his own safety but refused. “This was the last one they were going to cut down so it seemed like a reason to stand for it,” he added.

The issue has united the street’s residents, who feel the a wildlife habitat is being destroyed for profit.

Now Forestry Commission officials are investigating whether rules around tree felling have been broken. A licence is needed to cut down more than five cubic metres of trees.

“It’s much more important than money,” Mr Milek said. “They are destroying so much wildlife just for that.”

Residents said they had seen birds flying around the field with nowhere to nest.

Mr Milek’s mum Christine has also been keeping watch. She said: “We will continue to sit here as long as they are in that field.”

Melissa Aveyard was also guarding a tree overlooking her garden. She said: “I ran inside for five minutes but when I came back outside they had ripped it down. It’s just wrong the way they are doing it.”

Mirfield mayor and Kirklees councillor Vivien Lees-Hamilton has visited the site. She said: “It’s sacrilege. Some of those trees were very old. I think Anthony’s actions were excellent – more people should take that kind of stand.”

But she acknowledged that there was little residents could do without a tree preservation order. Mrs Averyard said she had been told the tree was not in “public view” or “in public interest” so the council would not place an order on it.

Landowner John Hinchliffe refused to comment.