Stay of execution for iconic Old Dalby oak tree

Councillor Joe Orson, borough council representative for Old Dalby, next to the village's iconic oak tree on The Green, which was under threat of being chopped down  because it is in danger of falling due to decay EMN-191208-112657001
Councillor Joe Orson, borough council representative for Old Dalby, next to the village's iconic oak tree on The Green, which was under threat of being chopped down because it is in danger of falling due to decay EMN-191208-112657001
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A decaying historic tree at Old Dalby which was under threat of being chopped down for safety reasons has received an 11th hour stay of execution.

We reported in June that the large turkey oak, which has stood on The Green for more than a century, was said to be in danger of falling according to a recent survey into its health.

The report, which was made in response to concerns expressed by the county council’s highways department, recommended its removal because it was considered to pose a threat to pedestrians and motorists and parish councillors reluctantly agreed with the findings.

But following an outpouring of dismay from villagers about the loss of the iconic feature the council commissioned a second survey, which found that careful pruning could prolong the tree’s life for future generations.

Alan Richardson, a senior arboriculturist who carried out the new survey, put forward alternatives to removing the tree entirely - to either prune the tree to make it safe or remove most of it and carve the trunk into a seat or bench along with planting a suitable replacement tree slightly to the north.

A spokeswoman for Nether Broughton and Old Dalby Parish Council told the Melton Times: “Recognising the importance of the tree to local residents and to ensure all possible information had been sought the Parish Council commissioned a second survey.

“At their recent meeting Councillors voted unanimously to follow a second option presented in this latter survey.

“This option will ensure the health and safety of the tree and users of the The Green and adjacent highway whilst also prolonging the life of the tree.

“The tree is to be pruned to a seven-metre monolith leaving the lowest structural branches at approximately 1.5m from the trunk and shaping the remainder of the tree accordingly.

“The parish council recognises that the tree will look very different following the required work but it is hoped that residents will be able to enjoy this much loved tree in its different form for some years to come.”

The exact date of when the oak was first planted is unclear but it is believed to have been in 1897 for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria or August 9, 1902, to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.