A stark image shows how council officers reduced a protected Ruthin tree to naked stumps, in a drastic bid to appease residents who claimed it was unsafe.

The oak tree, on Bro Deg in the town, was originally protected in 1986 as a condition of constructing the housing development in the area.

In November an application was made to remove the condition because of fears roots had damaged a water pipe

However officers decided a fence post was the most likely cause of the fracture and made it the subject of a temporary tree preservation order (TPO) for six months.

With that about to expire officers asked for Denbighshire council’s planning committee to make the order permanent at Wednesday’s meeting.

Objections had been lodged by the tree’s owner and three other residents over safety concerns, primarily due to cavities caused by decay.

A report to committee said: “The council’s tree consultant inspected the tree and is of the opinion the tree does need major pruning works to reduce the risk of failure but primarily, due to the tree’s considerable age, is worthy of retention and continued protection by a TPO.”

Major pruning, called pollarding, took place on the tree and two objections were removed. Yet the result of the pollarding left the tree completely naked.

A picture in the councillors’ document pack showed the tree in all its glory before the pollarding had taken place.

Speaking at the planning meeting county councillor Emrys Wynne (Ruthin ward) showed members a picture of the tree, which was left completely devoid of foliage.

He said: “That’s its condition today, which is very different to what you see in your (document) pack.

“I hear what the officer’s saying is that the tree is likely to renew itself and it will be fine.

“Personally I’m concerned about its future after this treatment but I’m not an expert and people far more qualified than myself know more about this.

“That’s why I wish to have a deferral in order to get a report – but that’s not possible because of the timetable.

“We have to decide today on the future of this tree I think and as there isn’t an opportunity to have a report I’m not going to object to the application in order to preserve the TPO on the tree.”

Cllr Julian Thompson-Hill said he was “pleasantly surprised” the council had put a temporary TPO on the oak but added “usually” works such as this to a tree wouldn’t normally be done this time of year because sap was rising.

Despite some reservations councillors agreed to grant the permanent TPO on the tree by 16 votes to nil.