St Albans couple outraged at “needless” felling of large ash tree

The ash tree before it was felled. Picture: Susan Salter

The ash tree before it was felled. Picture: Susan Salter - Credit: Archant

A nature-loving St Albans couple are angry at the ‘needless’ felling of a large ash tree.

The back garden after the ask tree was felled. Picture: Susan Salter

The back garden after the ask tree was felled. Picture: Susan Salter - Credit: Archant

Susan and David Salter, of Colney Heath, were shocked when they came home one day to find a tree surgeon in the process of cutting down a huge ash tree which stood at the bottom of their garden.

Although the tree sits behind the back fence, in a neighbour’s garden, the Salters say it is their tree and the position of the boards was purely practical. Susan says it was put there to keep the back fences along the street in line.

The workmen halted work after the Salters raised concerns, but it turned out that the tree surgeons had been commissioned by the neighbour who had received permission from St Albans district council (SADC).

Susan claims SADC verbally admitted to her that the authorisation came from an apprentice without the authority to do so.

While the confusion was being investigated, the job was completed.

Susan is devastated: “It’s shocking that the council allowed this to happen.

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“In this day and age when we are encouraged to save trees and plant new ones I question just exactly who are being employed at the council offices?

“Through bad management and its lack of communication and allowing its staff to run riot, a beautiful tree has gone.”

She would now describe the garden as barren and uninviting.

Head of housing at SADC Karen Dragovic said they do not agree that the tree belongs to the Salters: “One of our leaseholders in Richardson Place asked to take down a tree on the edge of their garden that blocked their light.

“An inspection by one of our officers confirmed that the tree was part of our leaseholder’s property.

“Furthermore, it was not protected by a Tree Preservation Order nor was it in a Conservation Area.”

She said inspectors ruled the tree was not on the Salters’ property after a second inspection: “I understand the work has since been completed and we consider the issue as closed.”

SADC has a legal duties to protect trees within its area, and the wilful destruction of a protected tree without permission carries a large fine.

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