AN iconic tree that was the focal point for protests against the construction of a motorway is to be returned to Wanstead after being rescued from a timber yard.

The 300-year-old sweet chestnut tree made national headlines and TV news after protesters battling the construction of the M11 Link Road in 1993 occupied it.

After the trunk caved in the tree was felled in and sat on ground opposite Wanstead Tube Station for years.

The remains were taken to a woodyard in Loughton for preservation work in September 2010 and experts have decided the tree is now ready to be returned to Wanstead.

No date has been set for the tree’s return, and experts want to place it on a free-draining gravel base to help prevent decay.

Billie Figg of the Wanstead Society has campaigned for the return of the tree.

She said: “I am extremely happy about the news.

“It is not just an old, dead tree trunk, it meant something to people.

“Not many areas have a tree trunk that has provoked so much fervour and enthusiasm.

A City of London Spokeswoman said: "We hope to be able to bring the tree back as soon as we can for the local residents and visitors to enjoy."