Campaigners launch fundraiser to support legal challenge to council's to fell ancient Peterborough oak tree

Campaigners have launched a GoFundMe page in support of a legal challenge to the felling of a 600-year-old oak tree.

By Ben Jones
Friday, 24th June 2022, 7:54 pm
Protest gather in front of the oak tree in Ringwood, Bretton.
Protest gather in front of the oak tree in Ringwood, Bretton.

On Monday (June 20), Peterborough City Council announced that the ancient oak tree, located in Ringwood, Bretton was to felled despite desperate protests from campaigners and opposition from city MP Paul Bristow.

The council has defended its decision by stating that the tree must be removed as it has caused damage to nearby properties; a claim fiercely disputed by campaigners.

There have been three independent reports commissioned on the matter. Cabinet member for waste, street scene and the environment, councillor Nigel Simons, confirmed at the most recent council meeting on Wednesday (June 22) that third report identified the tree as the cause of subsidence to the property.

He said: “All other potential causes have been dismissed and therefore the only possible cause is drying and shrinkage associated with moisture extraction from the two oaks – trees T1 and T2 at the rear of the properties.

“The third expert report also confirms that damage is probably caused by root-induced subsidence.”

Residents, who set up a 24-hour watch on the tree when the council first tried to fell in in 2021, have vowed not to give up and plan to launch a legal challenge, with the help of organisation Tree Law.

A GoFundMe page has been launched, trying to raise £3000. Residents also plan to protest the felling of the tree on Tuesday (June 28), the day it is set to be cut down.

Protestor Richard Elmer said: “Our solicitor has pointed out that since the Environment Act 2021 was launched in November last year, it has become set in law that action should only be taken by local authorities in relation to their trees based on evidence. The key point here is that the council want to take action without any evidence that the ancient tree is the cause of the damage. This is stated in the councils own report.

"In fact, that same report states that the subsidence is likely to have been caused by the clay soil shrinking in the extreme heat of the Summer of 2018, this apparently was a one in 42 year weather event. The council cannot be allowed to destroy this ancient tree as "a precaution".

"Previous councils saw this tree as an asset and in the 1970's put a Tree Protection Order on it. This council describes it as a nuisance. So much for inspiring to be The Environmental Capital of the Fens.

“After reading every piece of information and all the reports, there is simply NO evidence that this Oak tree is causing any damage to any building. This tree is being felled purely as a precaution.’”

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Historic 600-year-old Peterborough oak tree to be felled despite protests