Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:51 UK

Row over churchyard tree removal

St Beuno's Church (picture Mary Smith)
The trees are in the churchyard of St Beuno's Church in Clynnog

A Gwynedd community is split by plans to remove a protected oak tree to make room for more graves in a churchyard.

The community council at Clynnog Fawr, near Caernarfon, wants the tree felled to allow up to 16 more plots.

The county councillor has collected a 60-name petition to save it and claims the tree is one of a pair planted in memory of a former Canon's family at St Beuno's Church.

Gwynedd County Council said the matter was under "consultation".

Gwynedd County councillor Owain Williams says the community council is choosing to disregard the will of the people.

Tree preservation

He said there was no "immediate" shortage of burial spaces.

Coun Williams added it was known the tree - which is one of a pair - was planted in memory of Canon Charles Elsie's parents because the family left a lot of money to the church.

"Anyway two Turkey oak trees didn't just fall out of the sky, they did not just land there, they were planted there for a reason," he added.

The tree is the subject of a tree preservation order.

Clynnog Community councillor Dafydd Hughes-Evans said his understanding is that the tree was dangerous as it was growing in soft ground, and the space was needed for burials anyway.

'In limbo'

He said a new part of the cemetery, which has been created with infill material from the construction of the nearby by-pass, will need at least five years to settle before burials can be allowed.

There was no evidence either that the trees had been planted as a memorial, he added.

Things were currently "in limbo", he said, and families were being upset at not being able to bury relatives where they wanted.

A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said the tree felling was first discussed in March.

The application was refused, although there was no objection to the tree being pruned to improve its shape.

Now however a new application to fell the same tree had been presented.

"A period of consultation is currently being undertaken regarding the application.

"This will will allow all relevant agencies and interested parties to present any opinions they wish to be considered before a decision is made," the spokesperson added.

• Turkey Oaks were introduced to Britain in the second half of the 19th Century. It is a native of southern Europe and south-west Asia.

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