23rd July 2024
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Plans to fell over 1,000 trees for metro extension ‘halted’ after weekend protests

UPDATED – 21 Feb – Madrid’s regional government said late on Monday that it would be dropping its controversial plans to fell more than 1,000 trees to extend a metro line in the Spanish capital. It said it had ‘halted the planned felling of trees’ in the area and would modify the metro extension project. It follows protest over the weekend [see original full report below]. 

Original report:

Over 1,000 people protested in a park in Madrid at the weekend, over plans to cut down 1,027 trees to make way for an extension of the metro system in the Spanish capital.

The demonstration that took place on Saturday was organised by neighbourhood groups and the Spanish NGO Ecologists in Action (‘Ecologistas en Acción‘), who said more than 2,000 people had joined the rally. A government official gave a figure of 1,000.

The regional Madrid government led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the right-wing People’s Party (PP), had initially planned to build two new stations on line 11 of the metro in streets south-west of the city centre, but has decided that the stations will be located in the old Arganzuela section of the Madrid Río park and in the nearby Comillas park.

The work will involve cutting down 1,027 trees, the government has said, angering ecologists and local residents.

A Change.org petition against the tree felling has so far been signed by nearly 57,800 people.

The Ecologists in Action group has filed a court appeal to block the works until the environmental concerns can be addressed.

‘In Madrid there are too many cars, not too many trees,’ read one banner at the rally on Saturday, while another said ‘Madrid Rio will be transformed into a desert unless we vote wisely on 28 May,’ referring to the upcoming regional and local elections.

Some demonstrators could be seen trying to push down the corrugated iron fences surrounding the condemned trees,, according to local reports.

Trees generate huge benefits for cities through carbon dioxide retention and pollution filtration, while also reducing the ‘urban heat-island’ effect, experts say.

Earlier this month, research published in The Lancet journal said planting more trees in urban areas to lower summertime temperatures could decrease deaths directly linked to hot weather and heatwaves by a third.

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