Iconic St Albans willow trees saved after local campaign
PUBLISHED: 14:44 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:44 21 January 2020
Two 'iconic' willow trees in St Albans have been saved from destruction following outcry from residents.
The trees are at St Michael's ford and frame the view up the River Ver towards St Albans Cathedral, as well as featuring on the cover of the book 'The Remarkable Trees of St Albans' by Kate Bretherton.
In a letter to St Albans district council, Anthony Oliver, chair of Fishpool Street Residents' Association, said: "These two trees have been inadequately maintained and have become too big. However, felling them is too drastic a remedy.
"The application to remove them would have a serious detrimental effect on the historic heritage environment of the conservation area.
"The suggestion to replace them with one tree of an unspecified species would leave a yawning gap in the local scene. Willows are most appropriate for a riverside location."
Sandy Walkington, county councillor for St Albans South ward, supported the campaign to protect the trees and praised the work of Fishpool Street and St Michaels and Kingsbury residents' associations.
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He said: "They mobilised local residents to write with their objections. They also paid for an arboriculturalist report which showed that chopping down the trees was unnecessary.
"This is a case study in the valuable role played by our residents' associations to keep St Albans special."
The arboriculturalist (or tree specialist), reported the trees were in good health and only needed to be pollarded, which had been done successfully before. He also warned that removing mature trees might cause issues in the ground which would be detrimental to adjacent properties.
People living near the trees had asked for them to be maintained and trimmed, rather than destroyed outright, so they did not impose on their properties.
Cllr Walkington said: "They had been allowed to grow too big, causing problems to neighbouring properties, so they will need to be reduced and then properly maintained.
"But chopping them down completely would have been a hideous mistake.
"The trees may still get a haircut, but willows are remarkably robust and recover quickly. The important thing is that they have been saved."