DORSET Council is hunting for a person who illegally damaged a 180-year-old tree with a chainsaw.

Suspected malicious damage to a protected mature oak tree has meant that it needs to be cut down.

The mature oak, which is located at Lampton Close in Wool, has been permanently damaged by what looks to be an electric chainsaw.

There are deep cuts to the trunk and several drill holes too.

It is close to properties, a footpath and the highway and is no longer deemed safe and will have to be cut down.

The tree is estimated to be at least 180-years-old.

Mature oak trees suport more life than any other native tree species in the UK (Woodland Trust), any replacement is likely to take many decades to make up for the loss ecologically.

This tree was protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

TPOs ban the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the local authority's consent.

It is a criminal offence and the penalty for carrying out works to TPO trees without consent can result in fines of up to £20,000.

Unlimited fines can be handed down in the Crown Court, in the event of serious breaches.

Investigations into the two counts of suspected malicious damage to the protected oak firstly on/or before the 8 August 2023 and again on the evening of the 26 August 2023 are ongoing.

The council is appealing for information about this.

If you have any information about the damage to this mature oak tree email or call 01929 557344 quoting enforcement reference: EN/2023/00354.