Higham Ferrers Save Our Oak campaign petition grows to 2,500 signatures
A campaign to save an ancient waymarker oak tree has gathered more than 2,500 names on their Save Our Oak petition in its first few days.
Campaign organiser Justina Bryan discovered that the oak tree she had known all her life as 'The Three Oak' was to be felled because nearby work on the £21m Chowns Mill junction project might threaten the 'long-term integrity' of some of its roots.
The tree growing on the outskirts of Higham Ferrers in Station Road, thought to be more than 400-years-old, dates from the reign of James I.
Mrs Bryan said: "The campaign is gathering pace. It's obvious that people have been down to the tree to see for themselves.
"I've put in a Freedom of Information request about the ecological survey but it's not come back yet.
"I believe that the first survey said they could save it but their justification [for felling the tree] will be safety.
"I have asked when the tree is coming down and I've been assured it's not coming down yet and have also been told they are reviewing it.
Since starting her campaign Mrs Bryan has discovered that the Three Oak tree was written about by celebrated Rushden-born Darling Buds of May author HE Bates.
She said: "I've been told that HE Bates wrote a story mentioning the tree in a book called In The Vanishing Land when he chartered all the villages coming up from Bedford.
"If anyone knows the exact passage I would love to know. We are also looking for any old pictures and photographs which might show the tree in the past or any historical mentions."
Tomorrow (Saturday, January 18) the Save Our Oak group will gather at a local coffee shop before moving to the Three Oak to decorate the tree with yellow ribbon to highlight their campaign.
Members of the public will be invited to meet at the tree to show the community's support on Saturday, February 1.
She added: "We've had lots of advice and suggestions. We've got to keep the pressure up."
Highways England project manager Dean Holloway said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and are one of the largest tree planting organisations in the UK.
"We only cut back or fell trees where it is essential to keep people safe and where it is necessary to allow us to improve journeys.
“Safety is always the priority for Highways England and there is a danger that this oak tree will be at risk of falling once the much-needed work at the Chowns Mill junction is carried out.
“We are still investigating whether there are any options that would enable us to retain the tree and keep pedestrians and road users safe. We will share our findings once all possibilities have been explored.”