The cutting of a mature chestnut tree situated in Tenby has been described as a ‘sad loss’ by members of the Civic Society.

With the tree situated on the grounds of Tenby Cottage Hospital on Gas Lane, staff weren’t best please when they made the discovery one morning last month, although Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has stated that the work was required after an Arboricultural Consultant found the presence of a fungal fruiting body at the base and the tree had failures in this area.

PCNPA has advised that the works to the tree were considered acceptable under Section 198(6) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (Dead, Dying and dangerous exemption).

Harry Gardiner of Tenby Civic Society, who are consulted on such ‘Tree Preservation Orders’ for the seaside town, remarked: “This is a sad loss – and old friend to many offering a good crop of conkers each year, so it seems drastic! One of the largest branches broke off in a storm last year and fell into the hospital car park. It was a very mature large tree, visually splendid but at risk of ageing problems.

“In the Conservation Area and with TPO’s the National Park are careful and good arboricultural reasons are usually submitted to them for lopping or felling, though we feel there is no real impetus for replacement trees, especially on County land.

“I don’t remember any applications to lop, and when the Town Clerk at Tenby Town Council offices showed me the map of Tree Preservation Orders I could not find one that includes this tree.

“Lots are protected around it though; an odd omission?”

Conker tree Tenby
(Pic supplied)

Mr Gardiner went onto explain the reasons why such trees might be cut, especially after the recent stormy and wintry weather.

“Because this is a mature tree which has grown very large, such are at increasing risk of branches breaking in high winds,” he continued.

“That risk is very hard to predict, as happened with the Town Wall trees. So at a difficult to define point, cutting back or felling becomes important, as may be this case where the tree overhangs a public highway and two car parks so public safety has to be assessed.

“There could be other ways of protecting safety, if that is the issue; the choice is between less drastic cutting back which keep the shape and character of trees. This has been applied for in several Tenby TPO trees in the last 12 months; or the traditional method of pollarding right back to few short inner branches, to promote re-growth.

“The first needs re-doing more frequently, the second is a lower cost in the long run. In managing the Civic Society’s Allens View site we take regular arboricultural advice and either fell dying trees, e.g. ash, thin out young trees, or have used the limited branch shortening approach to retain the tree’s character.

“Those wanting conkers will still find them below on a tree around the corner on the Narberth Road by the Doctors Health Centre. Maybe that needs TPO status if it hasn’t got it,” added Mr Gardiner.