A centuries old oak tree in Peterborough will be cut down, despite protests to try and save it.
The 600 year old tree, located in Ringwood, Bretton, will be felled later this month, Peterborough City Council have said.
Today, Councillor Nigel Simons, cabinet member for waste, street scene and the environment at Peterborough City Council, said: “This was a very difficult decision. What was certain to us was that if we didn’t act quickly and swiftly, the council would be liable for the damage to one home – an underpinning bill of around £150,000.
“This would mean we wouldn’t have any money to look after thousands of other trees in the city, or continue with our tree planting schedule which has seen 3,300+ new trees planted in Peterborough over the last planting season.
“As four other homes could potentially be affected in the future – one of which has already raised a claim against the council – we would effectively be risking hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxpayers' cash –money which could be spent on other essential services like schools and adults and children's social care. This wasn’t a risk we were prepared to take.”
The decision was made by cabinet member decision notice, following the publication of a third and final independent expert assessment and report into the tree.
The report states that, although there is no absolute evidence that the tree’s roots have caused damage to a nearby house, that the damage is ‘probably caused by root induced subsidence’. It also states ‘we do not believe there is any evidence which shows the damage was caused by heave movement.’
The third report was issued following a cabinet meeting in February earlier this year. At the meeting members heard that the body of technical evidence shows the tree is causing structural damage to a nearby home. They also heard that a further home is raising a claim against the council – as owners of the tree - and that potentially another three homes could follow suit. Further damage is likely as the tree is in its active growth period after being dormant during the winter months.
The cost of underpinning just one home could be around £150,000. So far two have been damaged. If the tree is left to continue growing, further damage could be caused to those two homes and potentially up to three further homes could be affected – bringing the bill much higher and this would have to be paid using taxpayers’ cash.
The date for the felling has been set for Tuesday 28th June. A total of 100 young oak trees – up to two metres high – will be planted this autumn/winter across the city to mitigate against the environmental impact of this decision. The tree will also be climbed on Tuesday for a pre-commencement ecological survey.