AN ANCIENT pear tree in Warwickshire village of Cubbington has been felled to make way for HS2.
Contractors began cutting down the 250-year-old tree today (Tuesday) to make way for the high speed line.
And as word spread of the work, devastated campaigners met at Rugby Road compound to protest and hold a vigil.
It was voted English Tree of the Year in 2015 and a petition to save the tree from being felled received more than 21,500 signatures.
In last-ditch attempt to save it, residents recently began tying yellow ribbons to the fence surrounding it in memory of loved ones.
Campaign group Save Cubbington Woods Stop HS2 said: “It was a historic day. HS2 has felled the iconic Cubbington pear tree. A tree much loved by the local community. A familiar place for walkers to take shelter from wind, rain and sun. Part of our heritage and landscape. England Tree of the year 2015. A home for precious biodiversity.
“It has also become symbolic with much of the stop HS2 campaign and representative of all that we ‘fight’ and peacefully protest for not just stopping the ill-conceived madness of HS2 but the destruction of our wild spaces, our natural world all adding to the climate and ecological crisis.
“Millions of years of history heritage, landscape and biodiversity are being lost in minutes by man and machine. For anyone thinking it’s just a tree, it’s much more than that and symbolic of much of what is wrong with this world today and this seemingly relentless path of destruction we are currently on.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western said it was a ‘sad day’ for the area.
He told the Observer: “I’ve been campaigning to save this tree for a while. This is a sad day for our local area and our beautiful natural environment. HS2 Ltd has much to answer for. I will continue to pursue this to ensure we get answers.”
But developers of the controversial high speed line – of which 54km will cut through the heart of Warwickshire – claim the tree will live on.
HS2 says more than 40 new trees have been grown from cuttings taken from the tree.
They were grafted in 2014 by horticulture expert Paul Labous from cuttings given to him by the Cubbington community.
The project is taking place at Crowder’s Nurseries in Lincolnshire and HS2 says many will be planted in Cubbington.
Nursery managing director Robert Crowder said: “It has been a real pleasure for us to do our bit in helping to preserve the legacy of the Cubbington pear and we look forward to supplying the trees in the not so distant future.”