HS2 fells 'tree of the year'

| 21st October 2020 |

The 250-year-old Cubbington Pear Tree was the second largest wild pear tree in the UK. It was felled as part of the High Speed 2 railway development on 20 October 2020.

The Woodland Trust 'shocked and upset' at the felling of the Cubbington Pear, near South Cubbington Wood, Warwickshire, for the HS2 railway.

This is in contradiction to what the government told the public would happen. 

A centuries-old pear tree which won England’s tree of the year in 2015 has been felled to make way for the new HS2 high speed rail line.

The Woodland Trust said it was “shocked and upset” at the felling of the Cubbington Pear, near South Cubbington Wood, Warwickshire, as part of the rail line works, despite campaigners fighting to save it.

The conservation charity also raised concerns that the tree, which is more than 200 years old, was felled after promises the stump and rooting structure would be relocated to provide an opportunity for the parent tree to regrow.


HS2 Ltd said it planned to relocate the stump and rooting structure as pledged, but had to remove the top part of the tree by felling it in order to do that.

Woodland Trust ecologist Luci Ryan said: “We are shocked and upset that HS2 have felled the historic Cubbington Pear, despite a long battle to save it.

“When we told HS2 of our concerns about the complications of coppicing and moving the Cubbington Pear Tree as it is in fact hollow, we were surprised that they told us that it would be felled and used as deadwood.

“This is in contradiction to what the government told the public would happen.”

The Woodland Trust is urging people to write to the Department of Transport and demand the Government holds HS2 Ltd to account over the destruction of ancient woods and trees.


But the company, which has started work on phase one of the line from London to Birmingham, said more than 40 new saplings had been grown from cuttings taken from the veteran pear tree.

They will be planted in new woodland sites being created as habitat to compensate for the loss of woods to the high speed rail line, including some which will be planted close to the original location of the tree, HS2 said.

Peter Miller, HS2’s environment director said: “The Cubbington Pear Tree project is a great example of initiatives we’ve put in place to enhance the biodiversity of areas around Britain’s new railway, and leave a lasting legacy for local communities.”

HS2 also said 80,000 trees had been planted in the region, along with wetland, heathland and meadow habitats being created.

The Cubbington Pear Tree won the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year title for England in 2015.

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.

More from this author


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate now.