Harpenden Common oak trees face the axe

PUBLISHED: 18:16 16 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

Matt Swan on Harpenden Common golf course

Matt Swan on Harpenden Common golf course

ELEVEN mature trees face the chop on Harpenden Common in a scenario which an objector believes could result in a similar outcry to the felling of cherry trees last year. Matt Swan, of Sauncey Wood, Harpenden, is very concerned about the town council s pro

ELEVEN mature trees face the chop on Harpenden Common in a scenario which an objector believes could result in a similar outcry to the felling of cherry trees last year.

Matt Swan, of Sauncey Wood, Harpenden, is very concerned about the town council's proposal to fell the trees including oak and ash by the second hole on Harpenden Common golf course.

He said: "Apparently it is to return the common to common and there are too many trees on it. The town council has put up a tiny notice nailed to a tree and there has been no letter leaflet drop."

Mr Swan, who is a member of the golf club, maintained some of the oak trees were around 70 years old and in addition to the 11 earmarked, there were other younger trees facing the axe.

He accepted that the club had wanted something done about the trees but said that all it had requested was clearance of the surrounding scrub and the removal of some saplings.

He said: "The golf club committee only wanted a couple of saplings taken out, nothing compared to this."

Mr Swan was also critical of the time scale for objections - consultation ends tomorrow (Friday) - saying: "It doesn't give people any real chance to object."

He warned that the town council could find itself in the same position as it was in January 2008 when there was a huge outcry over the felling of mature cherry trees in St John's Wood on East Common.

The felling eventually had to be put on hold because of the level of objections to the work which was commissioned by the town council following advice from the Countryside Management Service.

Harpenden town clerk John Bagshaw said the common had acid grassland - a specific type of grass which supports wildlife - and was a county wildlife site. He went on: "We look at ways of protecting the grassland and we have a golf course but we have a responsibility to maintain the common.

"What we have on the site is a number of trees which have established themselves and have become very mature. They are affecting the growth of grassland and spreading across the golf course."

He maintained the work should have been carried out in 2007/08 but it hadn't been because members of the town council had not been convinced it was the appropriate action to take at the time.

But the site had been revisited subsequently and because of the scale of work which was being proposed, it would be phased.

Mr Bagshaw insisted that the golf club had asked for the work to be done in letters to him because the boughs of the tree were spreading across the tee.

And he did not accept that the town council had not consulted fully - it had put up signs where walkers and golfers could see them, including an A3 sign on the second tee, and a letter drop to local residents, he said.

Mr Bagshaw added: "We are trying to be extremely sensitive to the demands of the common in terms of management and the demands of the public. This is not a unilateral decision on behalf of the town council.

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