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City's oldest tree will now be axed for terror defence

Photo: BPM

A tree which is thought to be the oldest in Birmingham is due to be chopped down despite efforts to save it.

The 80-year-old London plane tree on the edge of Centenary Square has been earmarked for the chop since last summer.

The decision was initially thought to have been taken because it was supposed to be in the way of a new Metro tram line which was being proposed however it later emerged that its roots were blocking the installation of an anti-terrorism blockade.

The blockade will be in the form of a line of benches rooted deep underground and designed to block a Berlin or Nice-style terror attack.

Campaigners from the Birmingham Civic Society. Credit: BPM.

Campaigners from the Birmingham Civic Society, the Birmingham Trees for Life campaign and the 1,500 people who signed a petition to save it had been given reassurance that their plans would be considered, giving them hope of a reprieve.

An extra root survey was carried out following the fallout to see if the benches could be worked around the tree - the results of which were being awaited by campaigners.

Despite the efforts, today work has started to prepare the tree to be chopped down tomorrow morning, a move which has infuriated campaigners who claim council bosses had not informed them of the move.

They are now organising a protest in the Square tomorrow. Campaigner Cllr Fiona Williams (Lab, Hodge Hill) said:

“There is no reason for this tree to go - it could stop a juggernaut and there are ways to work around it. Someone at this council does not want it and is determined to get rid of it. It’s symbolic of the very cavalier attitude some officials have to our trees which, with the pollution in the city centre are needed more than ever.”

– Campaigner Cllr Fiona Williams

Protester Ray Egan, aka John Bull, added: "Storm Doris couldn't move her, but here comes the council to destroy our lovely tree." A joint statement from the city council and Transport for West Midlands said:

“We have looked long and hard at all the options to retain this particular tree but because the Metro extension and the Centenary Square development, with its in-built anti-terror measures, have been designed as one integrated scheme it has sadly not been possible. While it is unfortunate we will have to lose this London plane tree, we will be planting 59 semi-mature trees as part of the new square design, making the area even greener than before.”

– Birmingham City Council.

Earlier this year ITV Central reported on the proposals to make way for the new terror defences in the area, watch Melissa Wright's full report: