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Orchard pear tree near Christ Church Eccleston saved from the chop
CAMPAIGNERS have fought off a water company’s plans to cut down the last fruit tree in a church orchard.
A number of trees were set to be felled as part of United Utilities’ scheme to site an overflow tank for excess storm water in the field behind Christ Church, in Eccleston.
United Utilities wanted to use the orchard field as a temporary site compound during construction and a “beautiful” pear tree was in the way.
Green Party activists Francis Williams and Andrew Brownlow objected in an attempt to “save the character of the lane”.
Mr Williams said: “We didn’t want to stop the whole plan. It’s basically a necessary one, as there have been problems locally with drains backing up during storms, which has spilled sewage onto people’s driveways, even into their houses.”
An under-sized sewer takes both rainwater run-off and sewage away from the area.
The sewer can’t be widened because of insufficient clearance over Pikes Bridge, where Mill Brook runs under Church Lane.
United Utilities’ scheme will relieve the problem by pumping excess water into the holding tank while storms last, before returning it to the sewage system once the rain has subsided.
The company says it will protect 30 homes from flooding.
Mr Williams added: “Their original plans would have damaged the area just too much.
“Christ Church vicarage entrance would have been permanently widened, killing a massive canopy beech tree in the process.”
Council officers have worked to help United Utilities modify their plans. Though two beech trees will still be lost closer to Chapel Lane, and part of the vicarage entrance will be temporarily dismantled, the biggest beech tree has been saved.
Mr Brownlow added: “Once all the work is finished, the scheme should bed nicely into the character of the road.
“But there was one sore point, which was the orchard field pear tree. We’ve both known this tree since we were boys, and we hated to think it would be lost.
“Fortunately, when I asked the council's planning committee to save the tree, they gave me a very sympathetic hearing, unanimously approving both our amendment and the much-improved scheme.
“We’d like to thank the committee members and the council’s officers for showing their concern for nature and the environment. It’s a beautiful tree with a lovely shape. In the spring it’s a mass of blossom, and right now it's covered in small pears.
“It’s an old tree, and it is starting to hollow out, but it’s beautiful. If just being old was a good enough reason for things to be killed, we’d all be in trouble.”
A United Utilities spokesman said: “This is important planned work which will remove the worry of flooding to around 30 homes in this area of Eccleston.
“It’s equally important we are sensitive to the environment we’re working in, and we’re happy to agree to protect some of the trees.”
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