Century-old oak tree saved from developer's chainsaw - The Rugby Observer

Century-old oak tree saved from developer's chainsaw

Rugby Editorial 7th Jan, 2020 Updated: 7th Jan, 2020   0

A CENTURY-old oak tree in Ashlawn Road has been saved from the chainsaw after it was earmarked for removal by developers.

Last month, Rugby Borough Council’s (RBC) planning committee approved the removal of the tree to make room for a footpath and cycleway as part of a ‘reserved matters’ planning application for David Wilson Homes’ 860-home development.

But concerns raised by campaigners and planning committee members sparked talks between the council, the developer and Warwickshire County Council (WCC) in a bid to save the tree – and an alternative route for the cycle path has now been agreed.

A WCC spokesman confirmed a council designer had provided a revised design which retains the tree – and was also looking at measures which will protect it during construction.

He said: “Everyone involved is making every effort to save the tree and make sure the construction doesn’t damage it in any way.”

During the festive season, campaign group Save Our Oak Tree (SOOT) launched a petition and held a protest at the site – where work was halted last May after the developer breached conditions of planning permission by ripping up more hedgerow than allowed.

SOOT and Rugby Extinction Rebellion member Helen Essex said it was good news the tree was now safe.

The under-threat century-old oak in Ashlawn Road has been saved after an alternative route for a cycle path was agreed. 01.20.002.rug.jm6

She said: “I was appalled to hear the council decided to fell the ancient oak tree, especially as there was so much controversy over the stripping out of hedgerows and trees last spring.

“In just a week, I found many like-minded people prepared to give up their time to hold a protest.

“Days later, thanks to hard work from concerned councillors, news looked positive. We are all amazed at the rate of the rapid response to our petition given the holiday season.”

She hoped the relevant authorities and David Wilson Homes could acknowledge the strength of local feeling regarding trees, hedges, habitats and wildlife on the site.

“We urge them to work more closely with organisations such as the RSPB and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in doing everything it can to meet and promote the needs of wildlife and well-being of future residents.

“Seeing the frightening ongoing devastation with the Australia fires puts our little corner of green in perspective, but I believe this underlines why it is so important to protect nature and tackle the climate crisis.”

Fellow SOOT member Lois Betts said: “An oak like this is home to around 1,000 species, and it has already removed over two tonnes of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

“The developers say they will plant 30 new trees, whose survival won’t be guaranteed, and it will take decades for them to be able to do what this one oak is doing now. It makes sense to build around this beautiful tree.”

She is due to speak about wildlife, trees, hedges and other environmental factors of the build when RBC’s planning committee considers an application for the first parcel of 105 homes on Wednesday (January 8).

SOOT’s petition, which has so far attracted over 2,500 signatures, has been kept open to ask decision makers and developers to mitigate any further harm to trees, hedges and wildlife at the site.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/qs499yy to sign the petition.

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