Trees to be given the chop any day now say Fareham Borough Council

PROTEST Jane Downs up the tree earlier this month
PROTEST Jane Downs up the tree earlier this month

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A ROW of trees that faces the axe looks set to be chopped down at some point in the coming weeks.

But the council has only told residents it will be at some time ‘in the next three weeks’, which protesters say is to stop them from climbing the trees in a bid to save them.

Jane Downs, of Frosthole Close in Fareham, climbed one of the oaks at the start of the month on the day council contractors turned up to cut it down, and refused to leave until it was safe.

The two oaks and one hawthorn tree are to be cut because of an insurance claim against Fareham Borough Council from a home in Inverness Avenue whose owners say they are responsible for subsidence to their extension.

The trees are on council-owned land in Frosthole Close.

Miss Downs, a civil servant, said: ‘If I do find out what day it is they’re going to cut them, then I’ll definitely climb back up there again, but I usually have to go to work, and they know that.

‘I got a letter from Paul Johnston, the council’s tree officer, saying that the trees are going to be felled and that their insurance company is satisfied with the findings they already have.’

But Miss Downs, who was speaking on behalf of a group of concerned neighbours, said they want it to be proved which tree’s roots is causing the subsidence so that the others may be saved.

She added: ‘I’m still not convinced it’s all three of the trees – they’re still saying it’s a high probability, but that’s not 100 per cent. It’s not good enough.

‘It makes me so angry.’

And ward councillor Peter Davies is backing calls to have the trees’ roots DNA tested to prove which tree is causing the subsidence.

Cllr Davies said: ‘I’ve been talking to Lee Smith, the head of planning, about this, and I have been stressing the importance of doing a DNA test and then we can see for certain if one or the other of those trees is implicated.

‘The council accepts they are perfectly healthy trees, and that’s why it’s a strong argument for doing the tests.

‘They are young trees, but they have been there longer than the houses.

‘We also need to find out to what extent this subsidence was a one-off – will another drought have a further effect?’

The insurance company wants to remove the trees as the most cost-effective solution to the problem.