A PASSIONATE 30-minute debate was held at a council meeting about the felling of a single tree.

A home owner had applied to fell a 65ft lime tree which was growing in his garden on Church Road, in Egglescliffe, near Stockton.

However Stockton Borough Council’s tree and woodland officer, Stuart Hibbert, inspected the tree and said it should remain as it was healthy.

Mr Hibbert was backed by planning officers who recommended the council’s planning committee reject the application.

But householder Michael Street addressed the committee to plea for the right to fell the tree. He said he had maintained the tree for 26 years, but it had grown too large.

He said: “It might be ideal for Preston Park but it’s totally unsuitable for a small garden. The branches hang down to the neighbours’ sitting room and all the neighbours are intimidated by the tree. Safety must be a consideration, if lightening struck and it fell it would cause considerable damage.”

He was backed up by 12 neighbours who wrote letters in support and neighbour Robert Alexander who told the committee lime trees were well known as “dirty trees” because of the amount of debris falling from it as well as wasps and flies it attracts.

Most councillors supported Mr Street, but Coun Steve Walmsley backed Mr Hibbert. He said: “They’re talking about it being ‘intimidating.’ It’s a tree not a triffid. As for lightening strikes, well I’ve got a tree near me that would cause all kinds of damage if it fell, but we have to think of the wildlife it supports. We can’t fell every tree because it’s tall, and I don’t think we should kill something just for our comfort.”

In the end the committee rejected its officer’s advice and voted to chop down the tree.