Ancient Widley tree chopped down despite protests to save it

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AN oak tree thought to be more than 200 years old has been chopped down.

Neighbours protested against the fell of the ancient tree on Park Avenue, Widley, formally part of a tree-lined drive leading up to Purbrook House.

CHOP A tree surgeon at work in Park Avenue, Widley

CHOP A tree surgeon at work in Park Avenue, Widley

But the new owner Chris Tibbett says the 72ft tree is too large for his garden and expensive to maintain.

In 1986 the government overturned a Tree Protection Order on the oak and granted the owner permission to fell it, but this was never done.

Mr Tibbett said: ‘If we don’t get it cut down then we would have to get it trimmed back every few years and not only would that prove costly but it’s time consuming too.

‘The tree is nearly up to our window now. Something has to be done.’

Betty Soffe, who lives next door, and her son Grahame tried to get a court injunction against the tree’s removal.

But they were forced to back down when told they would have had to pay compensation to the three surgeons scheduled to cut it.

Mrs Soffe said: ‘I’m devastated. That tree has been there for more than 200 years and now it’s being chopped down. It’s disgraceful.

‘I’ve lived here for half a century with that tree, it’s beautiful. I can’t believe that there’s nothing we can do to save it.’

Havant Bough Council confirmed that permission to fell the tree still existed, however having discovered Mr Tibbett’s plans, had contacted him asking him to reconsider his decision.

Jamie Gargett, arboriculturalist for the council, said: ‘After negotiations with the owner, it has been agreed that a replacement tree be planted in the front garden of this address. The species of which will be agreed by both the owner and Havant Borough Council.’