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Giant Redwood - 2021
Alison wrote to us with potentially sad news about this magnificent tree;
"The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RWBM) Council has given permission to fell a 170-year-old Sequoiadendron Giganteum (aka Wellingtonia) on Southlea Road, Datchet, Berkshire. Datchet Parish Council and local residents objected to the fellling. The tree may be implicated in subsidence issues at a neighbouring house but the evidence is inconclusive.

A planning application to chop it down was submitted to RBWM who issued a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect the tree and asked for alternatives to be investigated. The Woodland Trust also asked for other options to be pursued so the tree could be kept for its wildlife and aesthetic value.

As a result of the TPO, the insurers, Direct Line, started legal proceedings against RBWM and submitted a financial claim. That was followed by another application to fell earlier this year. There is little evidence of any alternatives being properly investigated but RWBM granted permission to fell.

An arboricultural consultant’s report says that some of the monitoring stations show that the movement (subsidence) is no longer consistent with the influence of the Wellingtonia, and no effort has been made to monitor any of the cracks which are alleged to be caused by the Wellingtonia.

This tree could not have been any more protected. It is in the Conservation Area and mentioned specifically in the Conservation Area Assessment. It is listed in the Woodland Trust Ancient Tree inventory, and had a TPO. RBWM says they had no alternative but to allow felling. To refuse would have attracted a claim of around £188,000.

Direct Line, the insurance company behind the claim, has declared it has gone carbon neutral. It has made a long-term commitment to offset emissions ‘under its operational control’ and, among other things, to protect the rainforest in Brazil.

There is another option. An eminent tree expert has said that there are ways to keep the soil hydrated to prevent soil shrinkage below the foundations which would allow the tree to remain. This is known as the ‘intervention technique’. There are also innovative root barrier techniques.

Local residents and councillors have set up a 'Save Datchet Tree’ group which would like to:

· Ask RBWM to revoke their decision.

· Ask Direct Line to honour its environmental and climate commitment and not fell the tree but use suitable alternative methods instead.

There are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts #SaveDatchetTree

We would be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of visitors to your website. If they would like to help to protect this tree, they could email trees@rbwm.gov.uk, copying in the head of planning and the managing director at RBWM and they can also email the CEO of Direct Line."
A sad and rather disgusting situation indeed. There are two aspects to this that I find particularly disconcerting.

Firstly - why is it that on my travels I see so many trees sit quite happily close to old and new buildings without any hint of a problem; is it that the fault lies with the foundations themselves? In fact, does the tree actually have nothing to do with the building's structural problems?

Secondly - it's the sheer audacity of a home being built adjacent to a large tree and then demands later being made that the tree is removed, or that "compensation" is paid, when problems appear in the building. If there really is a problem, perhaps the correct solution is to remove the building rather than remove an amenity enjoyed by much of the town. Or for the insurance company just to do what it is paid to do and underwrite any claim that arises.

The whole situation appears to me to be one of people wriggling out of their responsibilities for either bad workmanship, bad decisions or simple misfortune. It seems a great injustice to make the entire townsfolk pay for this by losing a fantastic landmark tree.

Andrew also told us about this tree's plight and sent a link to a petition


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