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150-year-old Belfast beech tree may avoid chainsaw

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Residents talk to Roads Service staff to postpone cutting down the beech tree in Glastonbury Avenue, north Belfast

Residents talk to Roads Service staff to postpone cutting down the beech tree in Glastonbury Avenue, north Belfast

Residents talk to Roads Service staff to postpone cutting down the beech tree in Glastonbury Avenue, north Belfast

One of Belfast’s oldest street trees has been granted a stay of execution after residents objected to plans to cut it down.

The beech tree, which stands guard at the entrance of Glastonbury Avenue in north Belfast, is thought to be at least 150 years old but nearly fell prey to the chainsaw last Thursday.

The Belfast Telegraph has been highlighting its plight and the concerns of angry residents who say they weren’t consulted over the decision to fell the tree because of the damage its roots have caused to the pavements.

Now the Green Party has applied for a Tree Preservation Order to save the venerable beech.

Last Thursday, engineers from Belfast City Council, acting for Roads Service, arrived with a crane to cut down the tree.

After a confrontation with residents they eventually left, but warned they would be back this Thursday to finish the job.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said: “We have been assured by Roads Service that the tree will not face the chop immediately. A decision on its future will now be made next week by Roads Service.

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“The residents of Glastonbury Avenue are passionate about the retention of this tree and feel that they have not been given proper time for consultation or to register their resistance to its loss.

“Hopefully a solution can be reached which will be satisfactory for all parties concerned.”

On Monday night a Roads Service spokesman said: “Roads Service is working to resolve the matter with all concerned parties as early as possible.”

One of the residents who shared her concerns with the Belfast Telegraph last week said it might be possible to raise the level of the footpath beneath the tree to allow the roots more space.

“The engineers said they were concerned about health and safety — yet they cordoned off the tree last week so now people have to walk on the road,” she said.

A Department of Environment spokeswoman said: “The Belfast Area Planning Manager has been in discussions with Roads Service and Belfast City Council officials. The immediate threat to remove the tree has been lifted pending further investigations.”


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