Tree campaigner celebrates saving another elm

Posted On 22 Sep 2014 at 6:39 am

Eco-campaigner and Green council candidate Tom Druitt has voiced his “relief” after another endangered healthy elm tree looks set for a reprieve.

Picture by Tom Druitt

Picture by Tom Druitt

On Wednesday, Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee rejected Brighton College’s plans to build a five storey study building where a rare healthy elm tree stands.

Tom Druitt spoke passionately at the meeting, and was thrilled when the application was turned down to save the tree.

He said: “I am hugely relieved that councillors made the right decision and helped to keep a healthy elm tree for the benefit of the school, pupils and the wider community.

“This was a very rare elm and its loss would have sent all the wrong messages about the importance of protecting our environment especially to young people.

“Thank you to everyone who voiced their concerns and thank you to the councillors for making the right decision when so many factors need to be weighed up a planning decision.

“It may seem to be about just another tree but this is an important and extremely welcome decision for the whole city because of what it demonstrates about local attitudes to protecting the environment.

“I hope that the council and the college can work together to ensure the college can build the new facilities it needs without felling the tree.”

Mr Druitt, who will stand in the Regency ward in next May’s local elections, previously helped save an elm at Brighton’s Seven Dials roundabout in March 2013 from being felled to make way for a new road layout by living in it for a couple of days.


Tom encouraged people to lobby councillors on the planning committee and wrote a heartfelt appeal in his blog setting out why the elm should be saved, saying:

“…ultimately it’s not the fact that it’s a conservation area, or that the tree is an elm, or that the tree is rare, or that the tree is an important habitat and carbon sink, the biggest reason I object to this tree being felled is that it gives the wrong lesson to the next generation. We have an ecological disaster unfolding in front of us, where the scale of habitat loss and climate change puts us as a species at risk for the first time in our history…”

The councillors, who must consider each application on its merits and do not vote on planning matters on party lines, listened, voting by a majority to reject the school’s application.



There is some debate about what exact sub-species the elm belongs to with the council’s arboriculturist saying it is an English Elm and others suggesting the tree is a Wheatley Elm – both are rare and native to England.

  1. feline1 Reply

    There would be far more to celebrate if somebody had planted a NEW elm tree somewhere. If we just “save” existing ones and never plant any more, they’ll still all be gone in the end.

  2. Rolivan Reply

    It will be interesting to see how many trees will be removed from St Peters Church to The Stein when the work starts.

  3. Gerald Wiley Reply

    I don’t know why Druitt has such a fixation on saving old trees – eventually the tree will die and then all the carbon it has absorbed will be released back into the environment.

    And apparently as trees get older and stop growing the amount of Carbon Dioxide they produce overnight through respiration is about the same as the Oxygen they produce during the day from photosynthesis.

    If you really want to help the environment and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere what you need, as @feline1 states, is to plant more trees, bushes, and especially fast growing plants such as bamboo to start taking more out of the air.

    SO perhaps the old trees should be cut down and a policy of planting more trees across the city started instead (do you remember plant-a-tree in ’73?).

    Mind you, who would expect a green party activist to actually know anything about real science – they seem more focussed on left-wing ideologies and quackery.

    Of course, Druitt, as Managing Director of The Big Lemon Bus Company, and potential Kitcat replacement, wants to look all pro-environmental whilst diverting interest away from all his vehicles that, allegedly, are some of the worst Nitrous Oxide pollutant generators in the city.

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