AN HISTORIC pear tree threatened by HS2 still faces the chop despite being named England’s finest.
Believed to be over 250 years old, the Cubbington Pear Tree has become a countryside icon and was has now also been voted England’s Tree of the Year.
The pear tree – thought to be the second largest of its kind in the UK – received more than a third of the 10,000 public votes cast in the contest organised by the Woodland Trust.
Campaigners have fought hard to save the ancient tree including calling on HS2 chiefs to build a tunnel under it – but at a cost of £46million the suggestion has been dismissed out of hand.
Peter Delow, chair of the Cubbington Stop HS2 Action Group, nominated the tree, which has become the poster-boy for all ancient woodlands under threat from HS2.
Speaking about the result, he said: “When I look at the fantastic trees the Cubbington veteran pear tree has beaten to become England’s Tree of the Year, I am sure the reason it won is that it is under threat from HS2.
“Those who voted for our tree clearly care about the protection of our natural environment, and I am truly grateful to them for showing their concern.
“This is surely a clear message to the Government it should demonstrate a better balance between the needs of our economy and the protection of our natural heritage.
“It would be perfectly possible to build HS2 without destroying our tree and many others, and the Government needs to think again.”
The fate of the tree has even been raise din parliament. Back in January, then transport minister John Hayes called for a new study to save the tree being felled.
But HS2 bosses say the tree is hollow and cannot be replanted at a new location, but added cuttings would be taken and planted nearby.
The pear tree – planted in the 18th century around the time Samuel Johnson was creating the first dictionary – will now go forward along with winning trees from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to the European Tree of the Year contest in February.