Chopped-trees row halts further work

PUBLISHED: 10:45 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:05 06 May 2010

The cherry trees

The cherry trees

ALL further work planned for Harpenden Common has been put on hold after a furious outcry over the felling of mature cherry trees. Residents complained that healthy, mature cherry trees were chopped down in St John s Wood on East Common. Contractors had a

After they were chopped down

ALL further work planned for Harpenden Common has been put on hold after a furious outcry over the felling of mature cherry trees.

Residents complained that healthy, mature cherry trees were chopped down in St John's Wood on East Common.

Contractors had arrived at the site at the end of January and carried out woodland clearance of low-level brambles and scrub as agreed with residents consulted beforehand. But Mrs Rosalind Drysdale of East Common claimed that it had never been made clear that the cherry trees would be axed.

She said: "Another neighbour compared the end result to the Day of the Triffids and we did really feel devastated by the loss of these beautiful trees."

Recently people have also been upset that dozens of mature trees along Ferrers Lane on Nomansland Common at Wheathampstead were to be felled.

Harpenden Town Council (HTC) commissioned the work following advice from Herts County Council's Countryside Management Service (CMS) which is also involved in the Nomansland felling.

But now HTC town clerk John Bagshaw has held his hands up and admitted that the cherry trees would never have been felled if the strength of feeling of residents had been known.

He said: "I am so sorry that residents have suffered such distress and realise now that we should have communicated our intentions more clearly. Although we cannot bring these cherry trees back we can make sure work on the rest of the common is carried out after full consultation with residents."

Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, who chairs the town council's environmental committee, was instrumental in calling a halt to the clearance work on the rest of the Common.

He confessed at the time he was shocked at the "stark" look of St John's Wood after the trees were felled but defended the work on the grounds that a wood had to be managed.

Mr Bagshaw said he had explained to Cllr Chichester-Miles that postponing the work would slow things down considerably but had agreed with him that it was most important "to get things right this time."

To that end all the residents in the vicinity and interested groups are to be canvassed for their opinions and invited to a public meeting to discuss further works to the woodland.

A CMS spokesperson answered critics at the time by stating that the project to remove around 10 metres of trees and scrub while preserving the apple trees was part of the five-year Common Management Plan to open up a previously-inaccessible area and to expose apple trees to create a local feature.

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