More than 1,200 signatures to “save” St Albans wooded area

PUBLISHED: 21:00 21 May 2017

What The Wick might look like after the propsed path has been installed

What The Wick might look like after the propsed path has been installed

Archant

More than 1,200 people have stepped up to support a campaign opposing controversial plans to fell trees and build a “road” through a 400-year-old St Albans forest.

The petition, which was only created just over a week ago, objects to St Albans district council’s (SADC) new Draft Greenspace Action Plan, which outlines proposals for the maintenance of Marshalswick’s The Wick until 2022.

The proposals say maintenance of the 4.8 hectare space requires the felling of trees, including “invasive” laurel and “non-native” sycamore, so ground-level plants can thrive.

Clean recycled concrete or virgin aggregate would be used to create a structured two metre footpath through the wood, to stop walkers trampling the undergrowth.

There is another more contentious path included in the proposal - for a 3.5m “surfaced area” joining Marshal’s Drive to Sandpit Lane which is “suitable for vehicles” - petition founder Wendy Brook described this as a “road”.

Many people who have signed the petition have also voiced their concerns.

Mike Walton said: “Running a contractor’s road through the heart of this protected nature reserve is unnecessary and an expensive waste of money.”

Luigi Federici points out that woodland in urban areas are “few and far between”: “Let’s not pretend this is simple woodland management and not the groundwork for future development.”

Siobhan Reading said: “The Wick is tiny: an intimate and tranquil haven in St Albans enjoyed by residents and wildlife alike.

“What it is not is a handy route for contractor’s trucks to trundle jauntily between Marshal’s Drive and Sandpit Lane destroying the natural habitat and utterly ruining the legacy left to us.”

Since the Herts Ad story on May 4 supporters have also been in contact to stand up for the scheme.

Brian Coiley described The Wick as an “overgrown and unkempt mess”, and said clearing trees is essentially for a balanced ecosystem: “Such clearing occurs naturally through the activities of large herbivores, occasional fires, large trees falling in strong winds and so forth.

“Short of re-introducing roe deer or wild boar to The Wick, burning parts of it, or allowing large trees to become dangerously unstable, it falls to us, the people of Hertfordshire, to correct the imbalance and maintain woodlands such as The Wick.”

Ben Newton agreed: “It is a common misconception that cutting down any tree is ‘bad’ and leaving all trees to grow unchecked is ‘good’, in fact this is what I thought before studying woodland management.

“In fact, woodland need active management and failure to do so is a major factor behind the declines of many woodland birds, plants and animals.”

Head of community services for SADC, Debbi White, said they have extended the consultation period by two weeks.

She described comments about a road as “wild rumours”: “I can assure residents that there are no plans to concrete over The Wick, build houses on the land, drive a road through it or cut down all of the trees. All of this has been made up and it is complete nonsense.

“Our proposals would keep The Wick in its natural state while allowing residents to enjoy this important green space and for us to maintain it in the best possible condition.

“The Wick was designated a nature reserve more than 20 years ago and that is not going to change.”

She urges people to read the proposals before signing the petition or sending in feedback, adding: “As regards the proposed paths, the plan is to improve them with firm, permeable material that will stop them being churned into mud and reduce erosion.

“They will be slightly widened in some areas to allow occasional access to the Council’s ground maintenance vehicles.”

She insisted “tree work would be minimal”.

To sign the petition click here, or join the campaign by emailing savethewick@gmail.com

View the plans click here.

To comment on the proposals, contact the Countryside Management Service on ellie.beach@hertfordshire.gov.uk


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