We’ve saved the Ashley Down Oak

THE 100-year-old Ashley Down Oak has been saved – to the delight of local campaigners.

Experts have carried out underground work to reduce the risk of the tree’s roots damaging a neighbouring house. 

And Bristol City Council’s tree and woodland manager has confirmed that the authority no longer needs to fell the tree or carry out drastic reduction of branches by “pollarding”.

The 100-year-old tree is on the corner of Stoney Lane and Ashley Down Road, in the grounds of Down View estate.  It was due to be chopped down because of fears it would cause subsidence under a house nearby that is owned by the council.

Save the Ashley Down Oak (Stado) campaigners climbed the tree in protest and occupied it in 2021 to stop the council felling it. 

Now groundwork company Geobear has 

carried out stabilising work injecting polymers into the ground to prevent the roots growing under the house. 

Geobear spokesman Aleister Willis said historically where tree roots undermine a house and subsidence is feared, the offending tree is usually removed.

He said: “In this case, the tree does not need to be removed as our geopolymer compacts the soils beneath the property. Essentially this means there is no moisture in the soil, so the tree roots will not migrate into the area any longer.  Ultimately this means the trees stay and the property can be stabilised. It’s basically a win for all parties.”

Stado received an email, which has been shown to The Voice, in which the council’s tree and woodland manager Andy Bryce says: “The works suggest that we no longer need to undertake the drastic and ongoing crown reduction works to the tree.

“In order to assess the impact of the remedial work though, we have asked for continued level monitoring of the property. A key stage for us is to monitor damage recovery over the drier hotter summer months.”

Local resident and Stado spokesperson Torin Menzies said they hoped the ground work would now end the threat to the tree.

“Stado welcomes this resolution for all involved; however, in light of subsidence mitigation options like this one being available, we are dismayed that Bristol City Council ever made a decision to fell the Ashley Down Oak – local communities should not need to resort to direct action in order to prevent such unnecessary and unwise tree removal.”

Treasurer of the Bristol Tree Forum Prof John Tarlton said he hoped this solution could be used for other trees in the city.

He said: “Mature trees such as the Ashley Down Oak are not only beautiful Bristol landmarks, they also act as carbon sinks, reduce air and noise pollution and provide crucial cooling to city streets as our summers get ever hotter, and dangerous heat waves get more frequent. We need to do all we can to look after these green giants.”