A plan to cut down 500 mature trees in an orchard to pave the way for a guided bus route, has been given the green light by local councillors who believe it will help tackle climate change.

Coton Orchard, which is close to Cambridge, is populated by approximately 1000 trees producing some of the nation’s favourite fruit, including plums and pears.

It’s also a designated habitat of principal importance.

However, the county council narrowly voted, 33 to 26, to construct a new bus route which will link Cambridge with the emerging town of Cambourne, eight miles away.

The decision flies in the face of a petition signed by 2,300 critics as well as vociferous arguments made during council meetings, in which the proposals were dubbed “utterly destructive”.

The MailOnline reported that Anna Gazeley, whose family the orchard belongs to, argued against the tree felling: “Traditional orchards are hotspots of biodiversity in the countryside, supporting a wide range of wildlife as well as an array of nationally rare and nationally scarce species.

“They are designated habitats of primary importance and rightly accorded protections.”

Orchard biodiversity manager at the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Steve Oram, slammed the £160 million bus lane as an “utterly destructive proposal”.

He added that the cost of the environmental loss “cannot be compensated for”.

Despite Coton Parish Council warning that a guided busway would save a meagre 90 to 210 seconds per typical journey, Lib Dem council leader Lucy Nethsingha cited a UN report highlighting the need to decarbonise economies.

Ms Nethsingha said: “Quality public transport links are a key part of decarbonisation.. Moving to a net zero economy cannot be done without changing the way we travel.”

A final decision won’t be made until a public enquiry is undertaken, and the council will seek government approval before proceeding.

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