Cookham Dean landmark tree felled - UPDATE 04/07

UPDATE 04/07

The information contained in the piece below is now confirmed as accurate, with one important correction.  I am advised by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Tree Team that application WAS made by the drainage contractors for permission to dig the trench.  And so, as part of granting permission, there should have been a Root Protection Area (RPA) issued.  This would have provided the contractors with the information they needed to dig the trench without damaging the tree.  I am further advised that the matter is now with the RBWM Planning Enforcement Team and I have requested visibility on the process that follows.  There are a number of people engaged with the council, including The Cookham Society.

Some more background on the tree's condition.  Lime trees (apparently) throw many fine roots - rather than fewer big roots.  The initial trench, and the subsequent remedial work carried out by South East Electricity, damaged these roots across a significant area and on one side.  The RBWM assessed the damage and concluded that even with a significant crown reduction, the tree would remain unsafe.

As of today the commemorative plaque that was at the base of the tree, is missing.  And if anyone happens to know where that is, please get in touch.

The RBWM is planning to replace the tree in the October planting season.  They will provide a five meter specimen that will be on a care "contract" -  which I understand to mean that someone will look after it, until it becomes fully established.  The idea of crowd-funding to raise money to provide a more mature specimen has been raised by some residents, and I have asked if this is a possibility (by that I mean can you even get tees that are bigger than that?).

                                                                                 
So I am very eggie (that means more than a little irked if there are any Millennials reading this).  I will tell you why, but you dear reader (and I suppose I), would be as well to remember that the facts are not verified, and my research reflects no journalistic integrity what so ever.  It should probably be considered little more than hear-say and tittle tattle.  But then the outcome is the same, and I am not a journo, and like I said, I am REALLY eggie!

You recall the power cut that Cookham Dean had last week?  The power cut that resulted in three noisy generators being placed at points around the village for several days.  The power cut that meant Ged at the butchers, had to transfer all the front of house meat out the back again because the fridges at the rear are the ones with the emergency power source.  That power cut.  The one that caused inconvenience for homes and business throughout the village.  Well, it seems that this outage was caused by drainage contractors who cut through a major power cable at the junction of Alleyns Lane and Dean Lane HERE.  They were engaged to upgrade the drains for a private property, and they decided to do so by the shortest route possible, across that little green triangle of land which is owned by the council.  That itself is a problem because you need to apply for permission to dig up council property.  And as part of the process of granting permission, the council would have asked an arborist to map out a Root Protection Area in accordance with British Standard 5837:2012. However, those contractors, having asked the local residents who owned the land (and being told the council), chose to disregard every requirement.  They dug their trench anyway, presumably finished their own work and at some point fessed up to the electricity people that they had plunged everyone into darkness.  The workmen that were there for days at the end of last week were the electricity people, trying to rectify the damage.   

However, the power cut, is not my problem.  My problem is that those initial contractors dug their trench across the shortest vector and straight across the roots of the Lime tree.  And then, because they broke the power cable, the electricity people had to come in with more big machinery to rectify things and (could not help but) damage the roots further.  The first contractors decided not to follow the correct procedure and the direct outcome is that this glorious, previously healthy tree has had to be felled.  Its not even an ordinary tree.  It didnt accidentally grow there.  It was a planted by a local man called Mr. Jordan in 1901 (as noted in the RBWMs Cookham Conservation Area Statement), and there is a small commemorative plaque just visible in the Google maps picture.  So that tree was 116 years old and had historical significance!

I have complained to the council not that they have cut the tree down, I entirely understand that.  What choice did they have the tree is on their property, and if this coming winter it was to have blown down onto a passing car or fallen on a house, the council would have been liable.  My very stroppy complaint is against the drainage contractors.  They need to be fined.  That tree wont be coming back and it joins several other beautiful trees that we have lost in recent years.  If you are even half as eggie as me, please consider contacting Helen Leonard or Paul Cross in the RBWM Tree Team at: trees@rbwm.gov.uk OR call the council customer services team on 01628 683800.

Comments

  1. The Council should be able to prosecute the offending contractor either for criminal damage to RBWM property, and if in a conservation area either force a replant or prosecute, or if was subject to a TPO force replant or fine but only if on weighing everything up, including officer and legal costs it is expdient and in the best public interest to do so.

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    1. Hopefully the Tree Team will reply to my email and let us know what they are planning to do!

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    2. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I'm also disappointed that we have lost another land mark of Cookham. If a successful prosecution happens, then I hope a substantial replacement tree can be planted. Not the same, but we need a replacement and a plaque to confirm what happened as a reminder to future generations of Cookham residents. The erosion of Cookham heritage is not okay.

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    3. One piece of good news tonight is that we have tracked down the plaque!

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is such a very sad thing to hear about. Does anyone know what happened to the wood from the tree? My husband is a sculpture and makes things from wood. He would like to make something for the village from the wood if anyone can supply him with the wood from the tree. He is happy to discuss ideas with the village of something appropriate to mark the historic tree. Caroline -cara.daisy@gmail.com

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    1. Oh what a lovely thought! I have a nasty feeling it will have gone, gone, gone but I will ask the man from the council...

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