Listing tree threatens homes on River Sid

Barrington Mead resident Julian King photographed the Monterey pine in 1992 and 2017

Barrington Mead resident Julian King photographed the Monterey pine in 1992 and 2017 - Credit: Archant

A century-old tree that threatens to block the River Sid and cause considerable damage to several homes could be removed with the necessary consent.

No one owns the strip of land where the Monterey pine is now listing at a steep angle over the water so residents are seeking reassurance.

It appears too heavy to be propped up and may need to be felled but Sidmouth Arboretum said it could be replaced with another that is being grown from seed.

Barrington Mead resident Julian King said: “When the tree does topple, over, the branches will block the River Sid like a dam and potentially put all 10 houses in Barrington Mead at the risk of flooding, and also some of those in Millfield Road.

“The tree roots would almost certainly disturb the bank and Millfield Road itself.”

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He claimed that the pine has started leaning in recent years because it had only been pruned on one side to prevent damage to telephone cables.

Councillor Stuart Hughes said East Devon District Council (EDDC) had been contacted and its tree expert is set to investigate.

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Cllr Cathy Gardner said she hoped it could be propped up as it would be ‘such a loss’ to that part of the river, but Sidmouth Arboretum president Diana East said it is probably too weighty for that to work.

She added that work was done on other trees in the area in 2014, when the pine was considered safe.

“We’ve since had very dry weather and very wet weather,” said Mrs East. “It needs to be looked at again by tree experts. The pine is reaching maturity. The arboretum view is that trees have a lifespan. Branches will fall off or they will fall over – if it fell it would fall on the houses.”

She said it would be up to Sidmouth Town Council and EDDC to consider a planning application to remove the tree as it is in a conservation area, and it would be a costly operation – but Sidmouth Arboretum could fund its replacement with another Monterey pine that has been grown from seed.

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