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Tree Campaigners Demand Truth from Bristol City Council

Tree campaign group Save the Ashley Down Oak (STADO) are calling on Bristol City Council to tell the truth about the proposed felling of the 100 year old holm oak on Ashley Down road. 

In a letter to Afzal Shah dated April 13th, STADO request the release of key evidence supporting the claim that the oak is causing subsidence to a nearby house. 

STADO was formed in February this year by residents concerned about attempts by the Council to fell the oak tree on Ashley Down road. The felling order was issued following claims from a nearby homeowner that the roots of the oak were damaging the foundations of the house. 

However, STADO point out that specialist structural reports that would clarify the truth of this claim have been repeatedly withheld from the campaigners, with multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to the Council unanswered. 

To get to the truth, STADO have written to councillor Afzal Shah, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Climate, Ecology and Sustainable Growth, with three requests. 

First, to release all specialist surveys of the oak that demonstrate the structural impact it has on nearby residences. According to the letter sent to Shah, the councillor had previously declared his intention to release these documents to STADO by Wednesday, April 14th. 

The 100 year old Holm oak
Photo credit: STADO

Second, STADO ask for a meeting between themselves, local residents, the Council, and representatives of the insurance company of the house allegedly experiencing subsistence, to discuss alternatives to felling. 

Finally, the group requests an immediate moratorium on the felling of the oak, at least until after the May elections. 

STADO campaigned Gaby Solly said ‘it is an absolute nonsense to be cutting down mature, urban trees without due process…[we demand] a properly sustainable and equitable way of operating from Bristol City Council’. 

The campaign is supported by many local residents, with a petition signed by 1,932 people calling for the felling to be stopped having been presented to the Council by Emma Edwards, Green Party candidate for Bishopston and Ashley Down ward. 

The campaign has previously gained national attention after taking direct action to occupy the oak, first with a platform and later a treehouse. Occupation, however, failed to save the last M32 Maple when it was felled on March 1st with a protester living in the branches. 

Read more on this story here.

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