THE life of a magnificent 250-year-old tree on the site of Aldi’s new Silsden store ended ingloriously on Tuesday as it was felled by chainsaws in less than five minutes.
Staff at the Ecology Building Society had battled to save the 35-metre tall lime tree which overhung its property after learning too late that the food retail giant had full permission from Bradford Council to chop it down.
An earlier tree preservation order had been revoked to enable Aldi to clear the site off Keighley Road and re-landscape areas surrounding its new store.
Removal of the tree was dependent on there being no council objection to final landscaping plans.
And when that deadline passed this week, contractors moved in with chainsaws, said EBS Ethics Manager Anna Laycock.
"It's been such a sad day - when the tree came down the noise was terrible, like a scream," Miss Laycock said.
She and other workers have organised online campaigns through social media to try to persuade Aldi to change its plan, but no comment or response had been forthcoming.
"We had a huge amount of support from members of the public, but not a word from Aldi despite attempts to contact them," she said.
Aldi have also not issued any media statements on the removal of the lime tree.
However Bradford Council did confirm that planning permission had been granted as part of the overall approval for the new store.
Miss Laycock told how the dramatic day began.
"As I arrived workmen had already started taking off some of the big lower boughs on the Aldi side of the wall.
"We asked them to stop and made more calls to the council and the Aldi workers said they had received an email confirming they had permission.
"Then at 1.42 a man with chainsaw just stepped up to the tree, made a few cuts during less than five minutes and then stood clear.
"And then suddenly it just collapsed in seconds onto the Aldi site.
"Now that beautiful tree is being chopped up and turned into chippings - we did all we could to save it and it's such an undignified end," said Miss Laycock.
*To view the Silsden tree's final seconds go to facebook.com/photo.php?v=699642303455503.