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Iconic trees saved from the chop!

THE majority of the iconic trees that line the King George V playing field have been saved from the chop after a new survey revealed that only three of the 25 trees need to be felled.

Earlier this year, Wiltshire Council wanted to fell all 25 of the trees after deeming them to be a risk to public safety. The council said that a survey had identified that the trees were in poor structural condition.

The felling was due to begin at the end of May, but plans were put on hold following an independent survey commissioned by the town council, that revealed that not all the trees needed to come down. The threat also brought strong objection from the community who felt that the Lombardy poplar trees should be saved from the axe.

Following another survey of the area, Wiltshire Council has concluded that only three of the trees need to be felled due to safety concerns and signs of decay. Richard Broadhead from Wiltshire Council environment services announced, “We have re-assessed our proposals and are now looking to fell only the first three trees nearest the skate park. This is due to the presence of wood decay fungi and also the recent construction of the skate park. The works that have been undertaken in order to improve the skate park have impacted and truncated the roots of the first tree in the row; this gives us concern for its future stability so we have had to conclude that it should be removed.

“Unfortunately, the loss of this tree will expose the two adjacent trees that have grown in close proximity to the first. Both of these trees have a number of fruiting bodies present on the stems. We have looked at reducing rather than felling them, however the size of the reduction for both trees to mitigate for the loss of the first would have to be so severe, that it would be detrimental to their physiological condition and would therefore not be considered best practice.”

Cllr Tony Watts, who organised the independent tree survey that halted Wiltshire Council’s plans said, “This is excellent news and it demonstrates what we as a town council can achieve when we investigate and question decisions made by other people.

“The people in this town care about what we have, and should never hold back in challenging issues like this.”

Several other of the iconic trees will have their crown reduced by 3-4 metres above the previous cut stems, to correct pruning points to limit dieback and will also have dead sections removed.

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