Villagers ‘angry’ after 200-year-old giant yew tree poisoned

Villagers “angry” after a 200-year-old giant yew tree was deliberately infected with a “bathful” of poison.

The imposing churchyard landmark has survived the reign of seven British monarchs and the terms of more than 40 prime ministers – but is now dying after being deliberately targeted by vandals.

Mystery surrounds the reason why anyone would wish to harm the 40ft-high yew in Milton Lilbourne, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

But chemical testing has revealed that the toxic herbicide glyphosate was used on the magnificent plant, which began dying over the summer.

The doomed yew fronts on to the home of Peter Crofton-Atkins, who said he was furious to discover the tree had been put to death by a killer.

He said: “It looked sick and half of the branches had turned brown.”

The laboratory which tested the ground around the great yew found the soil was muddied with more than just worms.

“They took soil samples and discovered that the chemicals in my garden were 15 parts per million but below the tree it was 10,000 parts per million,” added Mr Crofton-Atkins.

“The tree man said this is what’s so extraordinary – they must have used a bathful of the stuff.”

Mr Crofton-Atkins has now written to Milton Lilbourne Parish Council demanding that it investigates the incident.

He added: “I’m angry. You have to ask yourself who would do such a terrible act of vandalism?”

Another villager, who asked not to be named, said there were now concerns other trees may have been targeted.

They said: “There’s another tree, possibly another two, which are suspected of having been poisoned, but people are not comfortable talking about it.”

Paul Oatway, chairman of the parish council, said: “Peter has written to me about this and I asked him for some more details.

“Unfortunately he has not yet given me all the details I need. But this matter will go on the agenda of the next parish council meeting.

“I’m not entirely sure what he wants the parish council to do. It may be that he should speak to the Environment Agency.”

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