The Cubbington Pear Tree has confirmed its’ position as the ‘poster boy’ for all the woodland threatened by HS2, by becoming a finalist in the English tree of the year competition. Members of the public now have until midnight on Sunday October 11th to vote on the Woodland Trust Website, and the winning tree will be entered into the European tree of the year next year. The Cubbington Pear Tree is the only finalist currently threatened by development.
Cubbington’s famous and ancient wild pear tree standing in the path of the proposed HS2 has become an icon for the local Action Group, who entered it in the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year competition in July. Entries were submitted from all over England (there are separate competitions for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) before a panel whittled down the entries to a shortlist of ten. The Woodland Trust who run the competition have supported the Action Group’s efforts to preserve the tree and South Cubbington Wood, and both hope this competition will generate more awareness of the issues around HS2, which threatens dozens of irreplaceable ancient woodlands.
The tree is a Pyrus pyraster, a species that is rare in Britain. It is a relative of the familiar cultivated pear, Pyrus communis, which has been grown in gardens for over a thousand years.
Cubbington’s wild pear tree has been recently showing its magnificent fiery autumnal colours, its reddish hues contrasting with its mass of springtime blossom. Believed to be over 250 years old, the tree has been seen by generations at the top of a hill near South Cubbington Wood and still bears small edible pears which can be made into jelly. It is the second largest wild pear tree reported in the UK and the largest in Warwickshire. Its ‘mop-head’ form is characteristic of wild pear trees as is the spiny growth from the base of the trunk. This beloved tree may not survive much longer as it is due to be felled when construction of HS2 rail track between London and Birmingham begins in 2017.
Bizarrely, during a debate in the House of Commons on Friday 25th January 2015, Minister of State at the Department for Transport, John Hayes MP, announced that he had “asked for a new arboreal study to see whether the Cubbington pear tree can be moved”, rather than be felled, as the current plans for the High Speed Two (HS2) project require. The Minister’s announcement seemed bizarre at the time as an environmental impact assessment by HS2 Ltd, found that translocation of the tree “is extremely unlikely to be successful and is not proposed”.
Cubbington Action Group Chairman Peter Delow said: “We’re asking people to vote for our treasured and much-loved pear tree in order to highlight its plight. It seems inconceivable to me that such an important specimen will be grubbed up to make way for HS2, but all of our efforts so far have been unable to save it from impending destruction.”
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said: “This contest reminds us how trees have been an integral part of this country’s history and play an important role in our lives today. We still need better protection for individual trees across the UK and we hope everyone who votes will also support our campaign to create a register for all our Trees of National Special Interest. …The European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association since 2011, looks for the best loved trees from 15 countries across Europe. The UK is home to one of the largest populations of ancient and veteran trees in Europe and over 8,000 people have signed up to the Trust’s V.I Trees campaign to try and ensure all Trees of National Special Interest have better long term protection from the threats posed by climate change, development, pests and diseases.”
To vote, please visit the Woodland Trust Website, before midnight on Sunday October 11th.
Musical event in Cubbington: Spa Strummers: Friday 16 October 2015
Cubbington Action Group against HS2 present an entertaining evening with Spa Strummers Ukulele group with music, laughter and a song written especially for the Action Group on Friday 16 October. The event takes place at Cubbington Sports & Social Club, Windmill Hill, Cubbington, CV32 7LN with bar and raffle. Doors open 7.30pm, start 8.00pm. Tickets £6: Advance booking advised, contact Elaine: 07811 647 831 or 01926 771628. Tickets on the door subject to availability.