A group of Burton Green residents have won their fight to save a 200-year-old oak tree from being felled as part of HS2 related construction.
Alan Marshall, the deputy chair of the Burton Green parish council, said an agreement was reached after he received formal notification today (Wednesday) from Warwickshire County Council that the tree would not be felled.
Cllr Marshall said: “We are very pleased that WCC has seen common sense and agreed to the revised plan put forward by the contractors to avoid felling the tree to enable what will be only a temporary access to the site for about two or three months. We accept that it may be necessary to cut off a few lower branches of the oak tree."
A half dozen people decorated the tree on Sunday with banners saying 'Keep Burton Green' and 'Stop the Axe This 200 + years oak will not go.'
Cllr Ray Watkin had threatened to climb the tree in protest if an agreement was not reached.
He said: “I am relieved because it would've meant I would've been trespassing. What it does show is if there had been appropriate consultation none of this would've happened.”
The tree, located on Red Lane, was meant to be felled on Monday but councillors managed to delay the tree from being felled until Wednesday while they negotiated with HS2, British Pipeline Agency and the county council.
A fuel pipeline needs to be diverted within a field near the tree, and a site access needs to be constructed. The tree is on the sight line for vehicles to enter and leave the construction site.
The tree is part of a hedge, and the hedge has to be cut down as part of the pipeline diversion and the construction of the new Burton Green village hall. The current village hall is set to be demolished as part of the HS2 construction.
Cllr Marshall added: “However, while the problem arose because of the insistence of Warwickshire County Highways to apply visibility sightlines for a permanent junction (whereas this scheme only requires a temporary one) we believe the whole crisis could have been avoided had HS2 Ltd consulted us properly many weeks ago. We will continue to pursue this matter with Sir Mark Worthington, the HS2 Independent Construction Commission who has already taken up the case at our request.
“In reality, it was only by accident that one of our parish councillors, talking to workmen a couple of weeks ago, learned of the plans to cut back hedgerows and fell the tree.”
A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “Following a site visit earlier this week, the county council has worked with HS2 and its contractors to put forth a recommendation for traffic management that will allow the oak tree to remain without compromising visibility for workers. This means some small, low-hanging branches will be removed to ensure the health and safety of those working on behalf of HS2.”