A DECISION to save trees from the chop has left primary school children with nowhere to hold PE lessons.

York Racecourse sought council planning permission to fell 18 trees on its land, claiming they were in a “poor structural condition”, and would need too much work to maintain. It wanted to replace the trees with beech trees.

But the bid sparked a protest from more than 30 nearby residents in July, who wanted the trees to be saved.

Now the planning application has only partially been allowed – with six trees deemed removable because they are “an unacceptable risk due to significant necrosis of roots and presence of decay” - while the rest must remain.

However, Knavesmire Primary School, which has been using land near the trees with the Racecourse’s permission for sport, has now been told it can no longer do so by insurers - as the trees are thought to be unsafe.

A City of York Council report said that only six trees were deemed an unacceptable risk and could be removed. It added that the removal of the other trees would have “detrimental impact on views and public amenity, whilst the majority of the trees have a significant life expectancy and should remain”.

But Knavesmire Primary School head teacher Adam Cooper said the school will no longer be able to use the site.

He said: “We will no longer be able to host PE lessons or afterschool games on the site.

“As we do not have an alternative field, we will play away games until we find an alternative”.

A York Racecourse spokesperson said: “We have a longstanding and strong partnership with Knavesmire Primary School for the last 10 years, allowing the school to use our freehold land as a playing field free of charge for the children to play games and activities.

“We share the sadness of the school that the partial refusal to allow us to fell the ageing poplar trees.

"Our expert concluded the risk to harm was unacceptable and their report follows damage to a neighbouring property following the collapse of a limb of one of the poplar trees.

"On reading the report, our insurers and the school agreed the risk was unacceptable.”

The spokesperson said the decision was being appealed, adding: "We hope our appeal is successful to allow us to plant replacement indigenous semi-mature beech trees which are of much higher ecological benefit and to allow the school children to return to our property.”