Northampton

Northamptonshire oak: 5,000-strong petition could save tree

Oak tree Image copyright Google
Image caption The tree, known locally as Three Oaks and believed to be about 400 years old, is due to be cut down as part of the Chowns Mill roundabout roadworks

Highways England said it will carry out "extensive investigations" to attempt to save a centuries-old oak tree due to be cut down as part of £24m roadworks.

It comes after more than 5,000 people signed a petition to save the tree in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, near the A45/A6 roundabout.

Highways England said it only cuts down trees where "essential" for safety.

"But we understand people are concerned about the potential loss of this oak tree," it added.

Image copyright @OaksSave
Image caption Campaigners have tied a yellow ribbon around the tree, which is on Station Road

Dean Holloway, project manager for Highways England, said it would be "making sure every option is fully explored to see if we can retain the tree whilst still ensuring safety".

"Extensive investigations will be taking place over the next couple of months to see if we can achieve that goal," he said.

The tree, known as "Three Oaks" due to its shape, is believed to be about 400 years old.

'More than just a tree'

Justina Bryan, who started the petition, said Highways England's announcement was "absolutely fantastic news" and it had "listened to the local people, and thought about what they can do differently".

"My hope is that Highways England find a way here," she said.

"I'm so touched by the tree because it's part of my history. I grew up in Higham, my mum told me stories about it - it's more than just a tree."

Work on the roundabout is due to begin next month, and it is believed it could put the tree at risk of falling.

Highways England said a "high-tech investigation" including using radar could locate the tree's roots.

It also said "consideration is being given" to whether a new footpath could be re-routed in order to save the tree.

Highways England said it will make a decision on the tree after all its tests have been carried out.

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