An award-winning pear tree has been felled to make way for HS2

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Media caption,
The pear tree in Cubbington was felled to make way for HS2

A pear tree, thought to be more than 250 years old, has been cut down to make way for the HS2 rail line.

The "Cubbington Pear" was voted the best tree in England in 2015 in a poll run by the Woodland Trust, which said it was "shocked and upset" by the news.

It was nominated by the Cubbington Stop HS2 Group, who had campaigned for the Warwickshire tree to be saved.

But HS2 said the tree near Leamington Spa would live on in the form of saplings grown from cuttings.

The proposed high-speed line will link London with Birmingham, but has been criticised due to its rising cost and planned route through areas of countryside.

The Save Cubbington Woods group wrote on its Facebook page today: "There is a sense of numbness as this takes its toll on us all."

It said the tree had become symbolic of the movement to stop "the ill-conceived madness of HS2".

Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: "We are shocked and upset that HS2 have felled the historic Cubbington Pear, despite a long battle to save it."

Image source, HS2
Image caption,
More than 40 saplings have been grown from the Cubbington pear so far

HS2 officials said the tree's hollow trunk meant it had to be felled, and that it was looking to plant some of the saplings in new woodland sites close where the original tree stood.

It promised to plant 6.2 hectares of woodland to compensate for the two hectares of countryside that will be lost.

The process of removing the cuttings started in 2014 and more than 40 trees have been grown from it so far.

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