Cornwall’s oaks to last a millennium face the axe after just 13 years

The town association planted 100 oaks and 120,000 daffodils in the year 2000

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The Independent Online

An avenue of 100 English oak trees planted in Cornwall to mark the start of the millennium with the expectation they would last 1,000 years, is under threat from a supermarket and hotel development.

The plans, under examination by Cornwall council, mean that Millennium Avenue, that was intended to be still standing in the year 3000, could be threatened by the building of a new supermarket, pub, hotel and scores of homes just 13 years after it was planted.

Developer Wessex Investors, which intends to build the Morrisons supermarket, a Premier Inn hotel and up to 275 homes in the Pennygillam area of Launceston later this year, says there is no other safe and viable access to the site, which it claims was allocated for commercial use. Its managing director told The Independent that the development would create 400 jobs for the local area and that the company intends to remove no more than five trees during its refurbishment. “This has been on the drawing board for nearly two years and we are trying to accommodate everyone the best we can,” Andrew Pegg said. “While five will be removed under current plans, we intend to plant 93 trees in the new development.”

But the Launceston in Bloom Association, which vehemently opposes the plans, said that removing any of the 100 trees would totally ruin the avenue.

“It will destroy the avenue, we just don’t want our trees messed up,” Margaret Wills, chairman of Launceston in Bloom Association said. Members of the Association planted the oaks and 120,000 daffodils in 2000, in a bid to enhance the town’s status as the gateway to Cornwall.

Meanwhile pressure is mounting with more than 2,000 letters of objections sent to Cornwall Council which is considering the application. Mrs Wills added: “The Millennium Avenue must be totally protected in its entirety for the whole community and to enable countless generations to fully appreciate their magnificence and beauty.”

A report was commissioned by the group to assess the level of damage from the development, including the Morrisons store and the 60-bed Premier Inn.

Nigel Powell, of Glendale Countryside, said in the report: “Any development close to these trees is likely to have some impact on them and ideally would be avoided. They must be allowed to grow freely, away from development that might restrict their routes or require their developing crowns to be pruned.

“It is important that the 100 trees planted remain as such, 100 trees, the number as discussed corresponding with 1,000 years.”