Anger at threat to 120-year-old tree in Great Dunmow

PUBLISHED: 09:06 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:31 30 May 2010

ANGRY residents are set to petition against the felling of an ancient tree which will be ripped down because it poses a threat to the safety of patients and staff using the Angel Lane surgery in Great Dunmow. The 120-year-old Cedar of Lebanon tree - whic

ANGRY residents are set to petition against the felling of an ancient tree which will be ripped down because it poses a threat to the safety of patients and staff using the Angel Lane surgery in Great Dunmow.

The 120-year-old Cedar of Lebanon tree - which features on the national flag of Lebanon - is being torn because a survey revealed it posed a threat to the building.

Dr Peter Linn told The Broadcast that the safety of the 9000 patients that use the surgery had to come before the preservation of the 100-foot tree which had been, until Friday, protected by a 25-year council order.

"It will be coming down," he said. "It could possibly snap or large branches could fall, especially if weighted down with snow. Also there is the possibility of it being hit by lightening.

"If the unthinkable were to happen and it fell on the surgery it could kill or seriously injure people.

"We have had it professionally looked at and it is a danger. We have to consider the safety of our patients and staff. It is a nice tree - but it is a case of functionality over form.

"I am aware that residents are angry and I have apologised, but it is not our intention to upset anyone."

The doctors' apology has done little to stem the tide of bad-will against the decision. Residents' Association secretary Roger Grainger spoke on behalf of a group which is actively opposing the plans.

He said: "We just want more time. If the tree is completely felled in the next week or so, the benefit is lost to Dunmow forever. It has a minimum further 100 years of life and we want to find a suitable solution without cutting it down."

There is strong opposition to the felling of the landmark, which increased following a stand-off between the contractor and the residents on Saturday when work began. The tree is due to be cut down this weekend.

Uttlesford District Council has granted consent and a spokesman said that while the loss of such a mature tree is regrettable, the council is in agreement with Dr Linn that its felling may be necessary due to safety considerations.

The spokesman added: "The tree's large branch platforms are vulnerable, and given the nature of its location and the frequent presence of people in the area beneath it, a falling branch could have catastrophic consequences.

"The potential dangers could be considered to outweigh the tree's visual benefits, so on grounds of public safety, the council has decided to give permission for the tree's owner to take it down if he sees fit.

"If the tree is removed, a suitable replacement will be planted in its place.

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