Oak tree wounds overstated in felling wrangle

The felling of a protected oak tree in Lancashire was denied an inspector unconvinced that a deep cavity would give rise to a significant risk of structural failure.

The tree lay in a front garden close to a highway and the appellant stated that a cavity existed in one of the main branches approximately 14 metres above ground level and which ran for one third of the stem. In high winds there was a risk that the branch would break which could hit either the adjoining house or the appellant’s own property. In response the council stated that the risk of failure was low with collapse more likely if two thirds or more of the stem was hollow.

In referring to various calculations and advice provided by the appellant the inspector decided that the submitted information did not demonstrate that there was a significant likelihood of collapse noting that the precise depth and width of the cavity had not been precisely estimated. It had a high amenity value and felling the whole tree was excessive given the contribution it made to the character of the area. A detailed survey would demonstrate whether some pruning of the affected branch was necessary particularly if decay was above safe limits and the fact that this might lead to the tree having an unsymmetrical shape did not mean that it would appear unattractive.

Inspector: Mel Middleton; Hearing

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