Resident fights to save ancient oak tree from destruction

The decaying oak tree in Raymonds Plain

The decaying oak tree in Raymonds Plain - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

A Welwyn Garden City resident is fighting to protect an ancient tree which is showing signs of decay.

After seeing a council contractor's van next to an oak tree of roughly 300 to 400 years old on Raymonds Plain, the man, who asked to remain anonymous, approached the tree surgeon to speak to him due to his lack of faith in how the council looks after shrubs and trees.

The man was informed that the oak tree would be chopped down the next day due to it being dangerous, which would make it the second large tree on the close to be chopped down without replacement in recent times.

The decaying oak tree in Raymonds Plain

The decaying oak tree in Raymonds Plain - Credit: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Remembering that there was an active magpie nest in the oak tree, the man researched the law and called the RSPB, before informing the council that it would be illegal to chop down the tree while the birds are using the nest, without a license. He claimed that they responded that “they were going to chop the tree down anyway”, despite having been informed that this would be breaking the law.

When the tree surgeon turned up the next day, on Friday, April 23, the man asked him whether the council had contacted him and informed him about the nest.

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Although the council apparently had not informed the surgeon, he cleared up his equipment after observing the birds and said he would return after the birds were finished nesting.

The Welwyn Garden City resident continued, saying “the council never seems to look after their big trees, just wait for some deterioration and then use this as an excuse to chop them down", urging for more care to be taken to protect the natural wildlife.

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A Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council spokesperson said: "The tree is sadly showing signs of decay and, given its position next to a road and residential properties, could cause significant damage should it fail.

"We will be carrying out work to reduce its size in the hope we can retain the tree and make it as safe as possible.

"The works will be carried out in July or August depending on when the birds leave the nest. Once the work is finished, we will continue to inspect the tree to see how it responds and monitor the extent of the decay in the main stem."

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