A 300-YEAR-old tree that once provided shelter to Bonnie Prince Charlie and homes that “withstood Hitler” are to be flattened as part of works to expand the A38.
Middle Oak tree in Markeaton Park, Derby is due to be felled along with the properties to make way for construction vehicles working on the £250m expansion project.
Furious locals have slammed the scheme, which has already forced several residents to sell their homes to Highways England to make way for the new road.
The area where the tree stands will be used to make a lane for construction vehicles and will not be part of the expansion itself.
The historic oak is thought to have provided a resting place for Bonnie Prince Charlie and his troops during the Jacobite Revolution.
In 1745 the soldiers were on the retreat having been overpowered at Derby, when they apparently stopped to take shelter under the tree.
The oak’s significance has resulted in a campaign to save it led by local resident Mia Bains, 33.
She launched a Facebook group in November last year where scores of people have expressed their opposition.
They include one local woman whose 90-year-old home faces demolition if the works go ahead.
The Queensway homeowner said she is distraught at the prospect of losing her house which “withstood Hitler, but will unfortunately not survive the Highways department.
Highways England were in the process of negotiating a price to buy the land from each individual homeowner to compensate them for their trouble.
The plans were agreed in 2015 with the council, but the construction work will officially begin this year with the Secretary of State is to confirm later this month if it will go ahead.
The work is being carried out to improve the junctions as the trunk roads that pass through Derby.
Proponents of the scheme say the expansion will shave 16 minutes off commuter’s journey times during rush hour.
The project will also include improvement to the Little Eaton junction on the A38 creating a flyover and a new underpass to be built at Kingsway Island.
Despite this, residents are still furious at the decision and a petition to stop the works has now amassed more than 6,000 signatures.
Social media users have also expressed their disgust online.
Stephen Gibbs reacted at the news of the tree being felled saying: “Mindless.”
Felecia Phillips wrote: “Seize the corporations and the governments. Take our wealth back now!”
And Stephen Bartrup added: “Totally outrageous. Totem pole. What fool thought of that.”
Speaking today, campaign organiser Mia explained: “The tree has a lot of sentimental and historical value to many people in Derby.
“The 300 year old oak is a symbol of how we need to preserve and respect nature and stop destructive developments that put convenience and profits for a few over the wellbeing of local people.
“It will destroy hundreds of trees, wildlife habitats and takeaway local green space.”
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “We’re not able to comment on this as there is still a live planning application in place.”
A spokeswoman for Derby City Council said: “The A38 works is an Highways England scheme, so for any further information it would be best to contact Highways England.”