Burnham-On-Sea residents campaign to save rare black Poplar tree

A group of Burnham-On-Sea residents has this week halted work by Somerset County Council to cut down one of the town’s oldest trees.

The council had planned to remove a large tree at the junction of Rectory Road and Berrow Road due to safety concerns – and the work was due to start on Tuesday (September 27th), as we reported here.

However, when the council’s tree surgeons arrived on Tuesday morning, they were met by a group of concerned residents with a sign ‘Save This Tree’, as pictured here.

The residents said they are concerned about a lack of notice and consultation regarding the proposed removal and they said the tree should be pollarded – not fully cut down – to make it safe to motorists and pedestrians underneath while promoting its growth.

Also, they add that because bats use the tree, a full ecology report should be carried by an expert before any work is undertaken to remove it.

Local resident Tanya Lambert Majewicz, who is among those concerned about the proposed removal, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We think this wonderful old tree could be about 200 years old – it is one of the oldest trees in Burnham.”

“It adds to the character of the road and the town. A lot of local people would be very shocked and saddened if it suddenly disappeared.”

She adds: “I have regularly walked past this tree over the past 16 years with my dogs. On many occasions I have seen bats fluttering in and out of the tree branches, diving in and out. I know that they often use it and I believe it’s part of their habitat.”

“I and the other residents want to stop an irreversible mistake being made by the council  by chopping this tree down. It’s all come up very last minute, which is a great concern.”

“Over the past few years I have seen many nearby trees pollarded and trimmed, so I find it absolutely incredible that the council intends to cut the tree down without any full consultation or further investigation.”

”It’s a blind decision so we are hoping that somebody sees sense and assesses the tree.”

Tanya added: “The tree surgeons who arrived on Tuesday morning were wonderful people who obviously care about the environment. We understand that an ecological survey needs to be conducted by an ecologist before the tree is removed. No work to remove the tree was carried out on Tuesday while we await the report.”

“We don’t want to cause disruption – we just want this to be correctly handled and the ecology to be properly considered. It would be a big mistake to completely destroy the tree before it is correctly assessed by the experts.”

Council statement on the tree:

A Somerset County Council spokesperson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Our expert arboriculturists examined the tree earlier in the year after a major limb failure which broke and fell into the busy road underneath – luckily nobody was hurt.”

“As the Highways Authority we have a common law duty of care to road users and the public to ensure any risk is minimised.”

“Further potential limb failures were identified during the inspection which unfortunately underlines the fact that the tree poses a high risk to the highway.”

“Due to the potential of bats being present we have arranged for an ecologist to assess the situation which will help inform the next steps.”

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