A Newark tree which was saved from the chop after a public campaign is shortlisted to become ‘Tree of the Year’ in a national competition.
The tree is one of four which was saved from being felled by Newark and Sherwood District Council after groups of local campaigners ran petitions and even slept beneath it in protest.
It is now on the Woodland Trust ‘Tree of the Year 2021’ shortlist, which showcases the UK’s favourite trees to “help show their value and need for protection”.
People can now vote for their favourite tree before noon on December 13.
The four trees were due to be chopped down to make way for a car park extension at London Road in the town.
The original deal which was struck in 2018 committed the council to build a car park extension at the site and to pay a developer £30,000 per year in rent for 25 years, after an initial two-year, rent-free period.
But last month, the council made a U-turn on the plans after announcing developer Datch Properties had offered a new deal.
The sycamore, which is the tallest and oldest of the four, won the Woodland Trust’s ‘Tree for the Week’ in November. It was then put forward for the annual prize.
Jenni Harding of Protect Newark’s Green Spaces said: “The news is mind-blowing. The whole town is thrilled about this, it is putting Newark on the map.
“It is fantastic news and it has given us a real lift before Christmas.
“It is so exciting and a vindicate that everything we went through and the sleepless nights were all worth it to have it nominated.
“Who would’ve thought of this would happen three years ago when we found out that these trees were marked to be chopped down.”
The sycamore is up against fierce competition including a 600-year-old tree in Cumbria and others in Leicestershire, Kent, Essex, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Councillor Keith Girling (Con), the council’s deputy leader spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the U-turn was made, saying: “We did what was right at the time. If you speak to anybody who made that decision -and I wasn’t one of them and I’ve taken the brunt of this – if you asked them, not knowing all of this stuff, I think they would make the same decision.
“We will work hard to make sure the rest of the district doesn’t suffer because of the money we are spending in Newark.”
Mrs Harding added the group will be holding a celebration event on Saturday, December 11.
Adam Cormack, Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust, said Tree of The Year is “a reminder of the natural connection that we have with trees”.
He said: “There is a good smattering of different types of trees.
“Some have conservation stories, some have historical significance and others that are just awesome and eye-catching.
“The change to voting on social media taps into the instant opportunity to share the love of some of these wonderful trees.
“Trees deserve to take centre stage. Tree of the Year is a simple way to show our love of trees at a time when trees are so vital to fight the climate and nature crisis.”