A FAMOUS landmark avenue of trees under threat of decimation could be be saved after a U-turn by councillors following residents' appeals and protests.

Now a fundraising campaign has been launched in Snape Village, near Bedale, so more investigations can be carried out to see if they can be preserved.

The original avenue of Lime trees lining the village entrance was planted in the 1840’s and is protected with tree preservation orders. But after advice from experts the parish council proposed to fell up to 50 of the trees over the next two years.

A second avenue of trees paid for by public subscription was planted 25 years ago further back from the road and a tree expert raised concerns that the older trees were stunting the growth of the new ones and they would not recover.

The parish council carried out a village survey, with a majority backing the trees being axed. But at a packed parish council meeting, many residents complained there had to be an alternative.

One letter, signed by dozens of residents, said: "Many of the Snape villagers of long-standing, several of whom have lived here all their lives, and some newcomers, all regard the avenue as part of Snape’s heritage and are appalled, even distressed, at what the parish council is contemplating. This avenue as it stands now, is irreplaceable. Let the present generation and the next enjoy it for as long as possible.”

Council chairman John Duck said they could not afford to pay for further investigations as the tree survey had already cost £1,100 with a further £400 for an aerial survey. Work on the trees could cost between £8,000 to £10,000 when the council only has an annual £3,000 budget.

Cllr Richard Poole added: "I don’t want to see them go I love them but the bit in the report that frightens me is the information about stunting and that the new younger trees would never get over it.”

County cllr John Weighell recalled the new avenue of trees being planted and added: "It was considered the new avenue was the long term replacement for the old one, and sooner or later that nettle has to be grasped."

After resident, Mike Brown, offered to help start a fundraising campaign, members of the parish council agreed to apply for planning permission for the felling of one tree considered dangerous and carry out limbing on some of the others, while working towards more investigations and preservation of the other trees if the money can be found.