An 18-metre Scots pine tree is to be killed and removed by the Church in Sussex because of the ‘threat’ of falling pine cones.
Chichester Consistory Court, that governs church interests in Sussex, has decided that the ancient tree should be removed because two people have reported being victim to pine cones landing on their heads.
Worshipful Mark Hill QC deemed that in the region of 130 cones were so heavy and such a risk to the public that this ancient tree should be chopped down or ‘Hove to one side’.
St Peter’s Parish Church in Hove, East Sussex, decided on the removal of the tree which has been in residence far longer than any local parishioner.
Great sadness has been created by the decision as some parishioners have remembered the tree for their whole lives and even played beneath it. The sadness is extended due to the destruction of a major part of the micro-environment and a popular local squirrel which is going to be made homeless. The tree is close to a junction of two paths, one of which leads to a pre-school where many of the children love to watch the squirrel.
One commentator said: “No analyses has been provided to confirm whether the path could have been rerouted or whether the use of hard hats should be provided – the tree was there first!”
This also begs the question as to whether thousands of other mature British trees are at risk if such a precedent is set? To what extent does a property owner have a duty of care to passers-by for natural occurrences, such as pine cones falling on their heads?