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The line of hybrid poplar and mature ash is part of Otley's history and vital for our wildlife.


The East of Otley Action Group has worked with local ecologists, an arboriculturalist (or tree expert), and local residents to identify the trees and to study the wildlife and amenity value of the immediate area.

We have found out that the ‘dangerous’ trees that form a line along the front of this copse were probably planted at the same time, at least a hundred years ago. Maps show that there was once a grand house behind the trees, and it is thought they may have been planted like this so that the poplars would grow quickly to form a screen, whilst the slower growing trees would create lasting visual impact.


The ash in this copse is strong and healthy with no sign of the terrible ash dieback, and with an unusual and beautiful shape in which its branches curve upwards, like a candelabra. There is also an uncommon Wych Elm to the front of the copse, next to the pavement. Wych Elm are the only indisputable native British species of elm and were once widespread across the country: Dutch elm disease put paid to that, but this one is strong and flourishing and probably home to the white-letter hairstreak butterfly, which has suffered catastrophically due to the loss of the elms. They are hard to spot as they feed high in the crown of the tree.

The rest of the copse goes up to the disused railway line and consists of hawthorn, willow, blackthorn and bramble reaching up to trees on the disused railway line, which are protected by Tree Protection Orders (TPOs).

Taken collectively, these ancient trees are of profound importance; both for amenity value for humans - their visual impact is stunning - and because they provide such rare and rich habitat for wildlife. All of the specialists involved feel that the whole copse should be given a TPO as soon as possible, and that their loss would be deeply damaging to local biodiversity. The copse provides the perfect habitat for hedgehogs, badgers, roe deer, for bat roosts, a vantage point for barn owls, and crucially, at this time of year, nesting birds.

The trees are clearly a rich habitat for wildlife; but they also offer immense amenity value for humans and have both historic and cultural significance. Infact, all of the fields which make up the ‘Otley East’ development area have profound historic value: the placement of the trees and hedgerows suggest that they used to form hundreds of small plots, which were amalgamated at the time of the great enclosure in the 16th and 17th century.


The history of the Irish fields is a well-known and important part of Otley’s story and the Lisker Drive trees are part of this history.

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  1. Object to the removal of this line of poplar tree as part of your response to the East of Otley planning application (21/01671/OT)

  2. Talk to friends, family and neighbours and let them know what's happening

  3. Sign up to our mailing list on our homepage to stay up-to-date with this campaign and the planning application as a whole

  4. Follow @eastofotleyaction on Facebook and join our public forum to share information and ideas

  5. Let us know if you see anything unusual (good or bad!) around the site, email us,

Read the Wharfedale Observer Article

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