AROUND 100 protestors gathered in central Madrid on Monday morning as controversial work to extend the Metro system restarted. Workers with chainsaws started felling trees in the Madrid Rio park area, prompting some demonstrators to tie themselves to the trunks in a bid to stop the cutting.

Hundreds of trees are due to be cut down in Madrid Río and the Carabanchel district as part of the regional government’s plan for Line 11 of the underground train system. 

The work has restarted despite the project having been appealed in the courts.

Back in February, demonstrations first broke out over the plan after a popular child’s play area was fenced off in the Madrid Rio park, which runs for more than 10 kilometres in the south of the city alongside the Manzanares River. 

The regional government, headed up by Popular Party politician Isabel Díaz Ayuso, had originally planned to add a new station on Line 11 of the Metro system underneath nearby Paseo de Yeserías street. 

But a change that was not made known to the public will now see the stop built in the Madrid Río park itself, requiring the removal of hundreds of trees and the destruction of a playground known as the ‘pirate ship’ thanks to its galleon design.

After those protests, the regional government put the project on hold but the work restarted on Monday. 

In the Madrid Rio area, activists broke through a metal fence on Monday morning and attached themselves to the trees due to be felled. The National Police and firefighters had to intervene to remove them, and at least one person was arrested, Spanish daily El Pais reported.

In Comillas, Carabanchel district meanwhile, protestors were unable to break through the fence but did film the crews at work as they felled the trees. 

Local residents and environmental groups filed the lawsuit against the Madrid regional government in a bid to stop the work, but the case has not yet been heard. 

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