One man on a quest to protect a '400-year-old veteran oak tree' is butting heads with farmers and district councillors because of their ‘inadequate approach’.

The Uffington resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had lived in the village near Faringdon all his life and his connection with the local environment prompted him to fight for the tree's protection.

His personal campaign follows a planning application for the nearby Oxleaze Farm that sits about a mile away from Uffington.

Owners of the land, where the veteran tree grows, want to change the use of the agricultural buildings on the premises for housing up to 60 horses, as well as storage for building and scaffolding materials and equipment, and further construction of a horse riding training area.

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While the Read family, who own the site, want to expand their farming business, the eco campaigner argued that the changes will have an adverse effect on the veteran tree and that a tree preservation order and a suitable barrier need to be provided to protect the plant.

He said: "I do not feel that the veteran oak tree and another two oak trees are being afforded sufficient protection for numerous reasons."

The local explained that horses were chewing it up and that vehicles were already coming in contact with visible thick clay marks at its base.

In addition, he said the tree has also been damaged by fence rails and associated nails that were recently placed.

It was also pointed out by the local that another oak tree, adjacent to the front drive in a horse paddock, was left unprotected and debarked by the livestock, prior to dying and recently being taken down.

The campaigner added: “This demonstrates that the applicant has a woeful attitude towards the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment.”

A private assessment carried out by a tree specialist, who is a friend of the objector, showed that the oak tree to the frontage of the driveway access is of 'outstanding age and character' and its age is estimated to be between 300 and 400 years.

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Natural England – the government environmental advisory agency – describes a veteran tree as one that has decay features, such as branch death and hollowing, which contribute to its biodiversity, cultural and heritage value.

The body advises that when making planning decisions, authorities should consider conserving and enhancing biodiversity, reducing the level of impact of the proposed development on veteran trees.

The Uffington environmentalist urged the local authority: “This is an opportunity for Vale of White Horse District Council to demonstrate its commitment to the preservation and enhancement of the high quality natural environment and address the significant threats that have been identified and to implement policy requirements.”

When contacted by the Oxford Mail, a district councillor said they were unable to comment because they could not be seen to prejudice the ongoing planning application consultation.

A decision will be made on Friday but those who wish to learn more can visit using reference P19/V2147/FUL.