Friday, 5 May 2017

Council threat to landmark tree

A mature oak tree at the entrance to Greta Park is under threat. A report commissioned by the Town Council identified problems with an unspecified fungal disease, and the Recreation and Amenities Committee are seriously considering felling the tree rather than attempting to save it.

The minutes of the April meeting state:
"The report describes extensive decay from three fungal fruiting bodies, lack of bark growth and a rib of reactive growth which is present from ground level to the main union. This is indicative of the tree responding to a possible structural weakness within the stem. The survey of the tree also has evidence indicating that a cavity or area of tissues with little or no structural integrity (sic). There is one stem that has died and has been cut back and this may be linked to the rib and cavity previously mentioned."

The options offered are to reduce the size of the crown, to investigate the disease more closely, or to fell the tree completely. The minutes go on to give the impression that the Council has already decided that felling it completely is the preferable option: "Even if the tree is retained it is likely to need a lot of work to enable this and even then this may not be a long term solution due to the significance of the decay fungi and the characteristic of the wood."

As the Council does not seem to know exactly what the disease is, how fast it is likely to develop or how long it will be (if ever) before the tree becomes a genuine threat to people's safety, surely further investigations and at least a second opinion are in order? The report talks of "possible structural weakness" and a "cavity" with no indication how large the cavity is. This is weak evidence on which to deprive future generations of a much-loved mature tree.

The ruling Lib Dems have ordered the town clerk to obtain quotations for felling the tree along with the other options, and these will be presented to the next committee meeting in the 2000 Centre on Wednesday 10 May at 7pm. The Council welcomes public participation at its meetings.

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