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GREEN-MINDED workers are fighting to save a magnificent 200-year-old tree due to be axed during development of a new Aldi store in Silsden.

The 30-metre high lime tree, with massive spreading boughs, stands on the perimeter of the food-store's newly-approved site off Keighley Road.

And half of its branches reach over a stone wall and several metres into the adjoining grounds of the Ecology Building Society (EBS) on Belton Road.

Staff there believed the tree was protected by a preservation order as Bradford Council permission had previously been needed to carry out essential lopping.

But on Monday they were approached by contractors from the Aldi site wishing to chop down the much-loved tree.

"We'd had no prior warning and we denied them access to our property to fence off the tree and begin felling it," said EBS Ethics Manager Anna Laycock.

"That tree is so dear to staff who work here and more importantly is home to so many animals that to chop it down would be heartless and unnecessary."

"It really is irreplaceable," said Miss Laycock.

EBS chief operating officer George Haslem said staff had placed notices around the tree asking contractors to hold the axe until urgent discussions with Aldi had taken place.

"Our business is all about supporting sustainable developments and so we have a clear link with maintaining bio-diversity," said Mr Haslem, speaking in their new conference room made of plastered straw bales.

"We have contacted Aldi and are waiting for a response which will hopefully lead to discussion," he said.

Ethics manager Miss Laycock later added that staff had been assured by the on-site contractors yesterday that no action would be taken against the tree until those discussions had been resolved.

"There is a preservation order on the tree, however it is in the plans to remove it.

"Although we have not been notified of this and it would mean coming onto our land, which we will not allow," she said.

The Ecology Building Society was formed in 1981 and has been in its turf-roofed Silsden since 2003 where it employs 23 local people dealing with loans exclusively for eco-friendly projects.

No-one from Aldi was available to comment.