ECO-WARRIORS who set up camp in a 100-year-old apple tree have lost their fight to save it and a large badger sett beneath from developers.

Rowan Burrough spent most of the past week in the tree at Abercairn off Belle Vue Road, Stroud, where there are plans for 14 properties.

He had gathered support from nearby residents and other campaigners who called for the apple tree and badger sett to be fenced off and made into a nature reserve.

But the protest ended around 3.30pm today, Tuesday, when Mr Burrough, 44, was reportedly pulled away from the tree before contractors moved in to chop down the tree with a chainsaw.

He has been arrested on suspicion of assault and aggravated trespass.

Activist James Beecher, who was arrested for breaching the peace, but later de-arrested, said: “It is very disappointing. The tree has been massacred.”

Mr Burrough first climbed the tree last Wednesday morning after hearing chainsaws and campaigners filled in on a rota basis.

“The area should be fenced off and made into a nature reserve and the developer can advertise the houses for badger lovers,” he said.

“I am merely delaying the work so that everybody living nearby knows what is going on and can come out and decide what they want.”

A steady stream of campaigners had been supporting his cause by visiting the site with supplies and banners including Green district councillor Molly Scott Cato.

“We opposed this application when it first went in,” she said.

“It is my job to represent the badgers, the trees, the wildlife and the people who will flourish when the environment is protected.”

Rod Shaw, of Slad, who was involved in saving the trees at Stratford Park when Tesco was built, also joined the fight.

He said: “Stroud is seen as a green town so it is absolutely out of order that this is going on.

“It should have been taken into account that there is a 100-year-old tree on this land.

“It is just vandalism.”

Stroud News and Journal: Protesters at the location of old apple tree and badger sett just off of Belle Vue Road

Under planning permission, developer Gerard Walsh must leave a dedicated ‘wildlife corridor’ along the western and southern boundaries of the site.

A licence from Natural England was granted to relocate the badgers.

However, Vanessa Price, from Whiteshill, who has been taking part in Wounded Badger Patrols in the Gloucestershire cull zone, believes the badgers are still at Abercairn.

“We have been doing the patrols for the past five weeks and we have not come across a sett this big,” she said.

“The soil is still very fresh, they are still here.”

Mr Walsh met with campaigners on Tuesday morning.

Speaking to the SNJ he said: “I want to build houses, the council wants me to build houses but these campaigners don’t. We have a licence to do what we are doing. It is a sustainable site with minimal ecological value.

“The badgers have been moved to an artificial sett and we are already building a wildlife corridor.”