Community standing by the Ashley Down Oak with banner.

Tree Protectors Victorious After Council Drops Tree-Felling Plans

Campaigners in Ashley Down are celebrating after Bristol City Council U-turns over the decision to fell a 120-year old Holm Oak tree on Ashley Down Road. 

The Council ordered the felling after the insurers of a nearby house reported that the tree’s roots were causing subsidence of the building’s foundations. 

However, in a video released on Facebook today (May 12th), Mayor Marvin Rees said that after ‘working with experts behind the scenes’ a solution, including pollarding and cutting back the tree’s canopy, has been found to protect the house without felling the tree. 

The announcement comes after three months of campaigning from local group Save The Ashley Down Oak. STADO was set up in January 2021 to defend the oak and has contested the insurer’s analysis, and challenged the lack of transparency around the Council’s initial decision to fell. 

Torin Menzies, speaking on behalf of STADO, said ‘whilst we welcome the Mayor’s announcement, our work here is not yet done. We still need to ensure that Bristol City Council act appropriately and do not cause unnecessary risk or harm and that they are transparent about their current plans and their reasoning behind the attempted felling of the Ashley Down Oak.’

STADO also highlight the need for improved urban tree policies across the city, including ‘Tree Protection Orders, standing up against private companies on behalf of local residents, and doing whatever is reasonably possible before felling mature trees.’

The Ashley Down Oak made headlines this year when STADO occupied it with a treehouse and mobilized local residents to resist the felling, including a petition to the Council signed by 1,932 people, and an intervention from Dr Mya-Rose Craig, popularly known as BirdGirl.  

In his video announcement, Mayor Rees made a point of thanking Dr Craig for her efforts on behalf of the Oak. He made no mention of STADO, Bristol Tree Forum, or the efforts of local residents. 

Newly elected Green councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down ward, Lily Fitzgibbon, tweeted ‘I’m concerned that residents and campaigners were completely left out of the process. Why were our emails to @CllrAfzalShah ignored when over 2000 concerned people signed our petition?’

Read more on this story here.

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