Treetop Animal protests in a concrete overcoat

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The Independent Online
After the re-emergence of Swampy, it was the turn yesterday of another well-known eco-warrior to step into the limelight when 17-year-old Animal was lowered from a treetop in one of the most dramatic episodes so far of the two-week eviction near Manchester Airport.

The youthful veteran of the A30 protest at Fairmile in January had been suspended precariously 50ft up in the trees since Friday, and since Monday had been attached by ropes to a huge lump of concrete inside an oil drum.

Overseen by a safety observer from the protesters, bailiffs inched her down carefully with the help of a cherrypicker crane, her arm still tied to the drum. They later took three hours breaking up the concrete "lock on" - estimated to weigh more than a ton - with a pneumatic drill before Animal was finally cut free and taken away in a police van.

One campaign organiser, Jeff Gazzard, said: "As far as we know she is fine. She is a very determined protester."

The drama and danger of the removal was summed up by the Under Sheriff for Cheshire, Randal Hibbert, who personally oversaw the action. He said: "She was brought down from the trees in a very delicate operation. Any small mistake by the bailiffs would have resulted in her breaking her arm."

Animal's emergence at the Manchester second runway demonstration follows her presence at the A30 action at Fairmile, Devon, earlier this year, when she and Swampy were eventually removed from a tunnel. On Monday, Swampy was evicted from Fairmile for the second time.

At the time, Animal was asked if she would be prepared to go through a similar experience again. She replied: "Absolutely. No reservations at all."

The officials expect to remove six others still in trees by this morning but eight protesters remain in three tunnels.

Mr Gazzard said all the remaining demonstrators were in good spirits and predicted the eviction to clear the site for the pounds 172m runway could take another week.

A spokeswoman for Manchester Airport said Civil Aviation Authority figures quoted by protesters, which showed that the volume of air traffic fell last summer, were "selective" and ignored the fact that volume was up 7 per cent this year and was projected to grow by 6 per cent year on year.