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Moray councillor backs bid to save 100-year-old Beech tree in Nairn

Councillor Draeyk Van Der Horn
Climate champion Draeyk Van Der Horn thinks it is outrageous windows have to be opened during the winter to reduce heat in Moray Council chamber. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

A Moray Green councillor has ventured into a neighbourhood dispute to voice support for a campaign to save a 100-year-old tree in Nairn.

Draeyk Vad Der Horn is trying to save the 60ft beech tree from the axe.

It currently stands close to several homes and appears to be growing on no man’s land.

A nearby resident has asked if his neighbours will help foot the costs of having it felled amid his fears that it could come down in a storm.

‘I think it’s time for Nairn’s Lodgehill Tree to come down’

The Lodgehill Tree is growing on land surrounded by several homes and its ownership is being investigated. Images: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

A leaflet he created, entitled The Lodgehill Tree, states: “As the planet continues to warm we are experiencing extremely high winds and storms, not just in winter months.

The pamphlet was pushed through letterboxes in a plea for cash to remove the 100-year-old tree.

“As you will have noticed, this summer was exceptionally windy. While the tree is in full leaf, I fear it may act as a sail and topple over completely. I would suggest it is time for the beech to come down.

“I would prefer to act now rather than let insurance companies and lawyers fight compensation out in the courts.”

‘No fan of felling these big trees’

Above it only sky: Neighbours living in the area say The Lodgehill Tree is a feature of their landscape.

But the general consensus in the neighbourhood appears to be to try to keep the tree where it is.

A longstanding neighbour, who has lived there for 43 years, said: “This tree is quite a landmark and when people come up the lane they comment on how beautiful it is.

“I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with it, the tree is very stable, I’m pretty sure it is healthy.

“Removing a big healthy tree like this would be nothing short of senseless destruction.

“This man needs to be told the good that trees do, and the point is he definitely does not own that tree so he should keep his nose out of it.”

“I’m not a fan of cutting down these big trees unless there is a real safety issue,” said another homeowner.

He added: “Surely, if it is posing any danger, we must find this out first before anything is done.”

Someone else, whose house is close to the tree also described it as “beautiful”.

She added: “It is quite big, and sometimes I do wonder if it might come down if there was a really big storm, but you could say that about any tree.

“It’s a really big if.”

‘This could be the grandmother tree’

The Lodgehill Tree is causing divisions.

Draeyk Van Der Horn, who a Green Party town councillor for Forres, and who earlier this month secured a nature emergency declaration for the council, said there is ample evidence about the advantage of keeping town trees.

The councillor, who is also Moray’s climate change champion, noted that it was populated by pigeons.

“It’s full of food for them,” he said.

Mr Van Der Horn added: “It’s like the grandmother tree, the fungal network it creates is immense.

“These older trees transmit nutrients between species and we are discovering more and more that the really mature trees encourage and support younger trees to grow healthily.”

Mr Van Der Horn with The Lodgehill Tree in the background.

Mr Van Der Horn said the idea of just taking down a tree has huge implications.

He added: “We have to recognise the importance of every part of our natural world. We need to consider every living organism.”

‘Nairn tree seems to be in perfectly sound condition’

Seth Gill, tree surgeon and landscaping contractor.

A tree surgeon inspected the tree six months ago.

Seth Gill of Wyvis Tree Services said: “It looked to be in perfectly sound condition to me but a climbing inspection and surveys should be done to know for certain.”

He added: “I can see how a tree of this size in close proximity to houses would be worrying in high winds, but healthy trees rarely fall, its normally due to decaying roots or structural defects, and I think a survey could alleviate the neighbours worries.”