Healthy cedar tree at risk of catastrophic failure

The felling of a healthy cedar tree in Hampshire has been permitted, an inspector being satisfied that there was a significant risk to local residents.

The tree lay close to and overhung a significant number of dwellings and regularly-used circulation areas. It had huge spreading limbs and some local residents spent much of their day living and moving underneath its canopy. The appellant referred to a catastrophic failure of a cedar at Kew Gardens in London which had led to a fatality and argued that it was overly large for its setting and involved a risk to the health of residents.

There was little doubt that the tree made a positive contribution to the amenity of the area, the inspector held. It had been pruned in the past and older trees had a reduced capacity to tolerate such effects. The build-up of snow on the branches might cause them to snap further altering its shape and amenity value. In her opinion constant pruning and maintenance would be required in order to ensure that the tree was kept in a safe condition and even then such works would not enable the removal of those parts overhanging the dwellings and circulation areas without spoiling the shape of the tree. Consequently, although the tree had some amenity value this was likely to diminish over the remaining years of its life, further undermined by a constant need to prune its branches. In her opinion, therefore, it was preferable to remove it thereby avoiding constant future pruning work and ensuring that local residents were not placed at undue risk from a catastrophic failure.

Inspector: Gyllian Grindey; Hearing

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