Members of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council have expressed disappointment that a “magnificent specimen tree” next to Cockenzie & Port Seton Bowling Club is to be cut down.

East Lothian Council began work to cut the tree down today after it suffered damage during recent high winds.

An inspection of the tall cypress tree on Port Seton’s North Seton Park was carried out yesterday by East Lothian Council before a decision was made that, due to a crack on the main stem, the tree would have to be removed “on safety grounds".

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “A crack has opened up on the main stem of this prominent twin stem tree.

“The council’s tree officer has sadly had to take the decision that the tree needs to come down on safety grounds.

“The work will take place on Tuesday, April 16.

“There will be some disruption to traffic along a section of North Seton Park while this work is being undertaken.

“Some replacement tree planting will take place in the future.”

A spokesperson for the town community council said members were asked to consider a report from the council’s tree officer at their meeting on April 2.

The group was asked for its support in removing the tree due to claims that its root structure was damaging the adjacent bowling green. The group said that the report found that the tree was in good health with no signs of disease, decay or instability and noted that the request to have the tree removed came from the bowling club.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Although we acknowledge that health and safety must always come first, we are disappointed to learn that this magnificent specimen tree will be felled due to recent damage.

“We have today requested a report on how the tree has become unsafe over such a short period of time, as well as images taken at the time of the report presented to our meeting two weeks ago compared with those taken today.”

The spokesperson said that the response given to the tree officer’s report two weeks ago was: “Our view is that the community council has no statutory role in any decision although our position is to support nature - including trees for all of the benefits that they bring to environment, health and wellbeing.

“Which is why we were supportive of The Queen's Green Canopy and ongoing works at Sandy Walk. We continue to work closely with East Lothian Council in supporting and enhancing our environment.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said there had been no plans to remove the tree prior to the crack being identified.

The spokesperson said: “There were no plans to remove the tree, which was previously observed to be in a satisfactory condition, until an inspection on Monday highlighted that it had been damaged as a result of recent high winds.

"A crack was found to have opened up on the main stem of this prominent twin stem tree.

“It is likely that included bark within the stem union has led to a weakness which, when exposed to recent strong wind, has opened up and exposed the fault. Given the weight, it was determined that removing the tree was sadly the only solution.

“Given the risk and its proximity to a children’s play area and footpath, it was regretfully decided that the tree would need to come down on safety grounds.”