Northamptonshire oak: Highways England unable to save tree

  • Published
How the Chowns Mill junction will look when completed.Image source, Highways England
Image caption,
Highways England say the upgrade to Chowns Mill junction will significantly improve traffic flow

A centuries-old oak tree will be cut down as part of £24m roadworks despite more than 5,000 people signing a petition to save it.

The tree came under threat from an ongoing upgrade of the A45/A6 Chowns Mill junction in Northamptonshire.

Highways England said the development would leave the tree "in danger of falling down".

Justina Bryan, who started the petition, said she was "gutted as it is a tree I grew up with".

The tree, based closed to the A5028 at Higham Ferrers and known as "Three Oaks" due to its shape, is believed to be about 400 years old.

The new road layout falls within 1.5m (5ft) of it.

The decision comes after Highways England carried out investigation work on the tree, including using ground penetrating radar to map its roots.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The tree, known locally as Three Oaks, and believed to be about 400 years old and is now due to be cut down
Image source, Highways England
Image caption,
Investigations of it's roots found the tree would become unstable when the development work is carried out

Trial holes were also dug to examine root spread and to see whether construction would damage the tree.

Arboriculture specialists concluded some roots would need to be removed which would have an impact on the tree's overall health - potentially killing it.

It is hoped wood from the tree can now be used to create carved park furniture.

Highways England is looking to plant up to 1,500 trees and create wildflower meadows as part of the scheme.

Project manager Dean Holloway said his team "explored many different options looking for ways to safely retain" the tree.

"Unfortunately, after extensive investigations, the experts found the roadworks would leave the tree unstable and in danger of falling down," he said.

Mr Holloway said it was a decision made "with heavy hearts".

Ms Bryan said while it was not the outcome she had wanted she was pleased "Highways England did take it seriously".

"I can't say anything other than I'm gutted," she said.

"It is a tree I grew up with."

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.