A CHURCH minister has been given permission to chop down a tree of heaven next to her rectory.

The Rev Nicola Morgan said the tree was damaging a garden wall and her neighbour’s property.

Ms Morgan, the Rector of Stogursey, was also given permission to pollard a willow and carry out lateral pruning of a cypress tree, all three growing in the village’s conservation area.

Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) tree officer David Galley said of the tree of heaven: “The tree is an early-mature specimen that would continue to grow considerably in size if retained.

“It is now causing damage to the boundary wall and neighbouring house.

“In this location it is not a tree that is considered to merit protection by tree preservation order.

“A replacement tree will be requested.”

Parish councillors supported the rector’s application to fell the tree of heaven and carry out work on the other two trees.

The tree of heaven is a fast-growing plant from China which was introduced to the UK in the 1700s.

It gets its name from the perception that it ‘grows to the heavens’.