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Alder Tree on Bathwell Lane

A few weeks ago, a notice was pined on the lovely big Alder Tree on Bathwell Lane, just by the little bridge, to say that Somerset Council Bridges department had decided it was to be felled. The letter said that the Tree Officer had been informed and that they were ‘’in agreement’’ (sadly this turned out not to be true).

Concerned residents flagged this with the Parish Council and so extra attention was paid to the formal applications for tress works – to carry out works to a tree in a Conservation Area you must make formal notice to Somerset Council’s Planning / Trees Department – Residents had indicated that they would object to the perfectly healthy tree being cut down once the application was made.

The Parish Council had the expectation that, as with all other tree works in a Conservation Area, Somerset Council Bridges / Highways Department would apply to the Somerset Councils Planning / Trees Department for permission.

At the Parish Council’s Planning & Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday night (15th August) a member of the public informed committee members that someone had been seen up the Alder tree that day surveying it for nests and that machinery had arrived onsite, so it looked like the tree was to be imminently felled.  

The Parish Council agreed to contact the Somerset Council Tree Warden the very next next day to try and find out what was happening, as no formal notice of the works had been served.

Today (Wednesday 16th August) works to dismantle the tree started early.

By the time the Somerset Council Tree Officer could be contacted and then manged to get on site (from Yeovil) there was significant damage to the tree as the dismantling process was already well underway. Sadly, it seems that the tree had taken hundreds of years to grow and just a few hours to destroy.

All was not lost, as once onsite the Tree Officer carried out an inspection and instructed the tree surgeons carrying out the works that they must not poison the base of the tree.

So, while all the growth will have been removed over the next few days, the massive root base will remain and will not be killed off. Within a few years this will have bushed out, in about 10 years that will form small trees. Crucially the base and the root system will not decay (this would have caused damage to the bridge and the footpath).

The question was asked as to why it was that the proposed works to this tree didn’t come through the normal planning process for works to a tree in a Conservation Area – the reply being that Somerset Council doesn’t have to apply for permission to itself for consent (although it is considered best practice that it does).

The lesson learnt is that now knowing that Somerset Council’s Highways / Bridges Department may do as little as pin a notice to the tree, it is incumbent on us all to ask more questions and not wait for a formal process to begin.  

Sally had the Tree Officer be aware of the proposed works then it seems that powers would have been used to preserve this tree and permission for just a crowing given.  

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