January 19, 2009

Couple ordered to leave trees alone

An elderly British couple said local officials ordered them to stop pruning sycamores that the couple said posed a danger from falling branches.

Ray Lyon, 70, and his wife, Wendy, said they cut back the sycamores in Cheltenham, England, after the Tewkesbury Borough Council failed to respond to requests that the trees, which Lyon said were dying, be pruned, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

Lyon said the council went to court and issued a preservation order to prevent the pair from grooming the trees any further.

Councilor Derek Davies, cabinet member for built environment, said the preservation order was sought to protect the trees.

Officers do not go to court except as a very last resort because it takes time and taxpayers' money, he said. Sometimes, however, the council has to act to uphold the law of the land which is there to protect trees where necessary. If a resident clearly states he is going to break a preservation order then we have little choice but to go to court and prevent that happening. If there is a genuine need to prune protected trees then the council will of course consider a request.

The Lyons, who officials said are not responsible for the trees, agreed to abide by the order.