The life of a magnificent 250-year-old tree on the site of Aldi’s new Silsden store ended ingloriously yesterday as it was felled by chainsaws in less than five minutes.
Staff at the Ecology Building Society had battled to save the 35m tall lime tree which overhung its property after learning too late that the food retail giant had full permission from Bradford Council to chop it down.
An earlier tree preservation order had been revoked to enable Aldi to clear the site off Keighley Road and re-landscape areas surrounding its new store.
Removal of the tree was dependent on there being no council objection to final landscaping plans.
And when that deadline passed yesterday, contractors moved in with chainsaws, said EBS Ethics Manager Anna Laycock.
“It’s been such a sad day – when the tree came down the noise was terrible, like a scream,” Miss Laycock said.
She and other workers have organised on-line campaigns through social media to try and persuade Aldi to change its plan, but no comment or response has been forthcoming.
“We had a huge amount of support from members of the public, but not a word from Aldi despite attempts to contact them,” she said.
Aldi has also not issued any media statements on the removal of the lime tree.
However, Bradford Council did confirm that planning permission had been granted as part of the overall approval for the new store.
Miss Laycock, recalling how the day’s events unfolded, said: “As I arrived workmen had already started taking off some of the big lower boughs on the Aldi side of the wall.
“We asked them to stop and made more calls to the council and the Aldi workers said they had received an email confirming they had permission.
“Then at 1.42 a man with chainsaw just stepped up to the tree, made a few cuts during less than five minutes and then stood clear.
“And then suddenly it just collapsed in seconds onto the Aldi site.
“Now that beautiful tree is being chopped up and turned into chippings – we did all we could to save it and it’s such an undignified end,” said Miss Laycock.