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Hazardous tree to be thrice replaced

02 February 2022 : Council news, Environment

A tree which is leaning perilously over Taunton High Street opposite the Vivary Park gates, is set to be replaced with three new saplings.

Thought to have been planted when the High Street was originally pedestrianised in the 1970’s, the Acer Saccharinum (Silver Maple) has outgrown its brick planter, rupturing 18 inches of the surrounding reinforced concrete.

Following a detailed inspection, Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council’s Parks and Open Spaces team have determined that the Silver Maple must be felled to safeguard pedestrians and nearby properties.

Building an enlarged planter was considered impractical and cost-ineffective due to the obstruction caused to pedestrians and emergency vehicles, and the numerous underlying utility services that would have to be rerouted.

Public notices have now been displayed within the vicinity and the removal works have been scheduled for Sunday, 13 February.

Portfolio holder for Environmental Services, Councillor Andy Sully, said: “While we don’t encourage the removal of trees, we have a duty of care to carry out appropriate works on council-owned trees that pose a danger to people or properties.

“On a positive note however, where trees need to be removed due to safety, age or health, we’ve pledged to plant three trees for every one we remove as part of our commitment towards tackling climate change.”

In line with its three-for-one policy, SWT will replace the Silver Maple with three new specimens to include: a Gleditsia Triacanthos (Honey Locust) in Victoria Park, a Metasequoia Glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) in Taunton Green and a Liquidambar Styraciflua (Sweet Gum ‘Worplesdon’) in Priorswood Playing Field.

Once removed, the existing planter will be repaired and suitably filled with soft planting.

Portfolio holder for Planning and Transportation, Councillor Mike Rigby, added: “We’ve been looking to add more trees to our car parks, so we investigated relocating the Silver Maple to the Crescent car park but at a cost of £90,000 and only a 30% chance of survival, this would not have been a good use of public money.”

As part of its commitment towards reaching a net-zero district by 2030, the Council planted 380 trees in 2021 with another 650 planned for this year. A further 371 trees have been gifted to town and parish councils over the last two years as part of SWT’s free tree giveaway scheme.

Individuals or organisations wishing to contribute towards the Council’s net-zero target are encouraged to join the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative launched to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

For more information about SWT's three-for-one tree replacement policy, visit somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/trees.

Members of the public with queries concerning the tree’s removal can phone 0300 304 8000 weekdays between 8am and 6pm or email enquiries@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk.

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