A LANDMARK tree in a moorland village could be felled because it is interfering with overhead power lines.

The alternative is to lay new cables underground causing weeks of disruption.

Electricity North West is consulting with villagers about the future of the large mature Beech tree within the grounds of Tockholes United Reformed Church in Chapel Street.

Its engineers are concerned it is growing too close to overhead electricity lines presenting a major safety risk.

The firm is consulting with residents on whether the tree should be felled or for the overhead lines to be removed and placed underground.

Tom Wooley, overseeing the project for Electricity North West, said: “The tree in the grounds of the church presents an unacceptable safety risk to the network and anyone who might climb the tree and get too close to the lines.

“We have to act now and that’s why we’re consulting with residents. The most straightforward solution is to remove the tree, but it is well established in the village and so we wanted to check the best approach with locals.

“Moving the network underground is costly and will be more disruptive to the village but it is an option available.”

The consultation will last for two weeks.

Should residents choose for the tree to be removed, there will be a short power cut and a temporary two-day road closure. If the network goes underground, more than 225 metres of cables will be installed replacing the overhead ones with significant disruption for a number of weeks.

Darwen West ward's Cllr Dave Smith said: "This is a sensitive issue.

"The company and councillors will have to consult carefully with the residents of the village about it.

"One the one had we are talking about the future of a landmark tree and on the other about potential disruption, subsidence and damage from moving the cables underground."