Extinction Rebellion protesters dig up prized lawn in protest at 'Trinity College destroying nature'

17 February 2020, 14:51

Protesters dug up the lawn around the tree to symbolise the college's destruction of nature
Protesters dug up the lawn around the tree to symbolise the college's destruction of nature. Picture: Twitter

By Matt Drake

Extinction Rebellion protesters have dug up a prized lawn at Trinity College in protest over the Cambridge university "destroying nature".

The group claim they have dug up the lawn and "symbolically protected" the famous apple tree to highlight the college's "collusion in the destruction of nature at Innocence Farm in Suffolk".

This is in reference to the college allegedly being in talks with the Port of Felixstowe about developing a lorry park for around 3,000 vehicles on the site - which was turned down by planning officers.

Also, around 300 homes are apparently being built by the college on the Farm site, which it bought in 1933.

XR cited the college's "ties with fossil fuel companies" as another reason for the protest.

On the group's Facebook page for its Cambridge branch, XR wrote: "Trinity College has invested £9.1m in oil and gas companies, the most of any of the 45 Oxbridge colleges."

The apple tree is thought to be descended from the tree which produced Newton's apple.

Member of XR Cambridge, Derek Langley, said: "Nature is not just beautiful to look at, it is vital in sustaining a functioning biosphere.

"Biodiversity loss is just as bad a problem as climate breakdown and the world simply cannot sustain further damage to our ecosystems.

"We are in the middle of a climate and environmental emergency and the idea that a rich institution like Trinity College, which tells the world it is serious about tackling this crisis, is looking for profit from environmental destruction is quite simply astonishing.

"I take part in actions like this because I want to protect the world for my grandchildren and Trinity College is putting their future at risk."

Trinity College Cambridge said it "regrets the criminal damage done to its property" after the protest.

Local businessman Dr Tim Norman, 53, took photos of the dug-up lawn and uploaded them to Twitter.

He said: "It's counter-productive vandalism. Seemed to confuse the tourists too, as it wasn't clear what they were doing it for."

A spokeswoman for Trinity College said: "The college respects the right to freedom of speech and non-violent protest but draws the line at criminal damage and asked the protesters to leave.

"The college is liaising with the police.

"Academics at Trinity are actively engaged in research to understand and develop solutions to climate change, and taking practical steps forward."

LBC News has contacted Extinction Rebellion to comment on this story.