A NORTH Oxfordshire councillor has hit out at Cherwell council after not being notified about an ancient oak tree being cut down.

The mature tree on Bicester Road in Kidlington, as well as two others, are the subject of Tree Protection Orders (TPO) which should prevent them from being removed.

The insurers of a house next to the tree submitted an application to remove it, saying it was causing soil subsidence which was adversely affecting the property.

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But Green Councillor Ian Middleton has criticised the consultation process that has led to this tree having its protection lifted in preparation for removal.

He believes none of the local councillors, including himself, were directly notified about the planning application.

He said: “It’s very sad that a tree of this age and condition is going to be lost to the local environment.

"Whilst I accept there are good reasons for it’s removal, I would still have liked the opportunity to have engaged properly with the consultation process and perhaps called in other experts who could have offered alternatives to complete removal.

“We’ll never know now.”

Bicester Advertiser:

The council approved the application with a condition to replant the tree.

Gosford and Water Eaton Parish Council say they ‘can find no record of being consulted on the lifting of the TPO’.

The tree that is being cut down and the two neighbouring ones sit on unregistered land.

The two remaining trees are currently still protected, but Mr Middleton is concerned they may also come under threat if they are not properly managed.

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After speaking to council officers, Mr Middleton believes that at all levels no one appears to be prepared to take responsibility for the trees.

He added: “My concern now is to ensure the remaining two trees on that same site are properly maintained to prevent the same fate befalling them. This could be by either finding the owners of the trees or by the District or County Council taking ownership or management of them.

“It’s highly likely that this tree has suffered as a result of the increasingly dry summers we are having now due to climate change, causing it to encroach on the adjacent property.

“CDC has adopted motions on climate change emergency and a tree cover, both of which should mean we take far more care of the trees we have now, as well as planting new ones.”

Cherwell District Council says the application for tree removal did not appear on its weekly list of planning applications which is emailed to councillors and other interested parties every week because of a temporary backlog in the registration of planning applications.

It added: "However, a site notice was displayed and anyone searching for the application on our website would have found it."