A huge ash tree in the grounds of the former Madras College in St Andrews is set to be felled after being deemed a health and safety risk.
The near 60ft-high common ash, or fraxinus excelsior to give it its proper title, is showing signs of extensive ash dieback – a highly destructive disease caused by fungus – and experts have recommended its removal.
The University of St Andrews, which now owns the site in South Street after doing a deal with Fife Council ahead of the new school opening at Langlands, called in tree specialists Four Seasons Consulting to carry out assessments of 22 trees.
One of the trees, the mature ash in question, was classed as being “dangerous”, prompting the university to now apply to Fife Council for permission to bring it down.
If approved by Fife Council planners, Four Seasons say they would bring in elevated work platforms to begin the process of cutting the 18-metre-high tree down as it is unsafe to climb.
The tree would then be dismantled in sections and then chipped into a trailer before being safely taken away.
The site was acquired by St Andrews University as part of arrangements for the £55m replacement of Madras College at Langlands, which opened to pupils and staff in August.
The college’s other campus at Kilrymont has been earmarked for housing and other uses, with a separate planning application for a mixed-use development currently going through the planning process.
In addition to the proposal to fell the dying ash tree, the report also recommended that another ash tree on the site should be removed as it too was showing signs of ash dieback, but no application to cut it down has been made as of yet.
The same is true for two 15m-high sycamore trees, two lime trees and a holly tree, which the report suggests should similarly be removed to avoid potential damage to the listed buildings.
However, these have not yet been earmarked for the chop at this moment in time.
By local democracy reporter Craig Smith