THE felling of a 400-year-old oak tree to make way for a £1bn power cable has been dubbed “scandalous” by Little Neston residents who feel those behind the scheme are going back on their word.

Residents have hit out at the power companies behind the ‘Western Link’ scheme after a number of trees were cut down as part of the work.

The Western Link scheme will see a high voltage main cable laid underground through Wirral and across to Connah’s Quay.

It will help bring renewable energy from Scotland to homes and business in England and Wales.

The laying of the cable, which began last April, is expected to be completed by December 2015 but residents who live close to a stretch of the cable in Little Neston fear the scheme is putting trees at risk.

Resident Gerard Moore told the Globe: “It is just scandalous.

“Western Link held a number of public consultations throughout Wirral during the last 18 months and was always keen to point out their supposedly caring attitude towards environmental and ecological issues along the proposed cable route that they wished to construct through Wirral."

Wirral Globe:
Little Neston resident Gerard Moore said the felling of a 400-year-old oak tree is "unforgiveable".

Mr Moore added: “They went to particular lengths to assure people that the route would avoid trees, go around them, or if all else failed, they would use a technique called directional drilling to go underneath them.

“Now in Little Neston, when confronted by a number of trees, they have simply resorted to the use of the chainsaw.”

A spokesman for National Grid, who has teamed up with Scottish Power to carry out the Western Link project, said contractors Prysmian will alter the path of the cable to avoid trees where possible but said such a procedure is not feasible in every case.

Wirral Globe:
The tree, which is estimated to be around 400-years-old, has been felled to make way for the £1bn Western Link cable.

Mr Moore said several trees have been felled on the bridle path that runs between Lees Lane and Cuckoo Lane, one of which is an oak tree he estimates to be up to 400-years-old.

He added: “On the Wirral Way itself several other younger but mature trees have also been felled.

“They said they would plant six more to replace them but none of us will be around in 400 years to see them reach maturity.”

Although residents appreciate the cable is of national importance, Mr Moore said the loss of the tree is “unforgiveable”.

“The assurances given months ago regarding protecting trees along the route now seem to be for nothing and the cheapest option of the chainsaw has been chosen.”

A spokesman for National Grid said: “During our discussions with local people prior to starting work on the project, we said that we would avoid removing mature trees as far as possible.

“Where we need to remove a tree, as in the case of the oak tree at Little Neston, they will seek the landowner’s permission to plant three more trees to replace it.

“We understand that the local community places great value on the landscape and the trees within it and we would assure people that we will work with our contractors to minimise the number of trees removed during the cabling work.”