The Oak tree protest at Ringwood. Pictures: David Lowndes

Protesters hold rally to save 600-year-old oak tree in Peterborough

Protesters have held a rally in their bid to stop a 600-year-old oak tree in Peterborough from being felled.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 4:59 am

Campaigners have been fighting long and hard to protect the ancient oak, in Ringwood, Bretton, which has stood since around the 14th century and was part of the original Grimeshaw Wood.

Peterborough City Council has given permission for it to be felled, despite the Tree Preservation Order on one of the trunks, due to a claim from an insurance company that the roots have caused damage to a nearby house.

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and Liberal Democrat Group Leader on the council, Cllr Nick Sandford, are among the supporters to save the tree.

Residents have already set up a 24 hour watch on the tree and on Saturday (September 25), they gathered at 11am to express their views and were joined by Cllr Sandford and Bretton Parish councillor Cllr Richard Strangward.

Leader of the protest, Richard Elmer said: “Wayne Fitzgerald has recently issued a statement in the Peterborough Telegraph and said ‘As a city aspiring to be the UK environmental capital, I can think of no better way of marking Her Majesty’s remarkable service than through the Queens green canopy. The Platinum Jubilee will be a great year for the country and I know Peterborough will play its part in the celebrations.’

“I ask, how can he say this on one hand when the council wish to destroy one of the oldest trees in Bretton and possibly one of the oldest trees in Peterborough. The council have the power to satisfy all parties. They can save the tree and the house can remain. I think we have demonstrated that the people of Peterborough strongly oppose felling this tree. The petition on the Peterborough City Council website now has over 440 signatures in less than a week. The Change.org petition is now over 2,300 signatures. I urge the council to listen to the opinion of their electorate and to save this tree. We are, in my opinion, not the owner of this tree but merely the custodians of it for the time being. Remember it has survived more than six generations so far. It is a keystone species.”

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said: “I am not giving up the hope that something might be done to save this much loved tree. It was here before the houses, and the Council must leave no stone unturned to find an alternative to felling.

“The residents have done an excellent job setting up their campaign and they have my support. I can’t be there today because of a family commitment, but I stand with them.

“I have written to and spoken with council officials, and I promise to continue to do what I can to support this campaign. We can do this!”

Campaigners also distributed flyers around the area, which further stated their case. It read: “What started off as a simple one-man protest to stop the felling of a healthy ancient oak tree has now become a movement in its own right.

“This particular oak tree has survived for hundreds of years and is one of the last remaining oak trees from the ancient Grimeshaw Woods of which Brettin is built on. We live in harmony with these great trees and we must keep them for not only the future generations but for the environment today.

This tree has a CAVAT value of over £300,000, has a Tree Preservation Order on it and Peterborough City Council has given themselves permission to fell it. Reports have been submitted to the council which state that the cost of repairs to a nearby property would be between £28,00 and £75,000 if the tree were to remain.

“For too long now, Peterborough City Council has removed ancient trees and hedgerows from our environment. We want to see Peterborough as the Environmental capital it claims to be. The replanting of new trees is counterproductive if the council continues to remove our ancient trees from the city. Planting new trees will have to survive over 50 years before they start to make any difference to our environment.

An ePetition has been launched on the council’s website and already has over 400 signatures, to sign click here.

Campaigners have also created the Trees of Peterborough Facebook group.

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