Old beech tree in Belfast gets stay

Jan. 2, 2013 at 1:09 AM

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A 150-year-old beech, believed to be the tallest and oldest street tree in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has been granted a stay of execution.

Officials began reviewing the tree's status after angry residents confronted workers who had come to cut it down in mid-December, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said Sunday a tree protection order means the beech gets at least another six months. He described the tree as a "very fine mature beech."

The Roads Service said the tree's roots may be damaging the street and posing a threat to drivers.

The Woodland Trust local director said there is no evidence the roots are a problem.

"We would be concerned if all urban trees with protruding roots were deemed to be a safety hazard," Patrick Cregg said. "Some of these trees are natural monuments."

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