The unapproved developments breach Policy RP5, as it has directly and indirectly lead to large scale loss of trees, damage to the ancient forest woodland canopy; loss of groups of mature broadleaf trees at all stages of development and re-generation; loss of individual native trees which were part of the ancient woodland character of the land. There has been loss of ground cover throughout the site, with negative impact on the future bio-diversity which was dependent on the previously undisturbed nature of the woodland.
This paragraph above was written in a letter from Janis Neil to the planning authority in respect of the application for structures on our grounds. Let’s take it apart.
1. The unapproved developments – not unapproved just pending planning approval. Quite a difference.
2. Directly and indirectly led to large scale loss of trees. Well one might imagine there must have been mass tree felling on the site. Whilst there has been tree removal, none of this tree removal has any association, directly or indirectly, with the structures in the planning application. Tree removals have been carried out by Scottish Power and a few more by myself, with permission, for trees being suppressed by a neighbouring tree or for very poor tree specimens or for non native specimens (Cypress). I intend to apply for 2 more trees to be felled, a very poor cherry tree which only has top growth and has been strangled with ivy and damaged by deer plus a spindly ash. I have planted in excess of 30 replacement trees, all native. It has been a joy to plant them and it will be a joy to see them grow and develop. There has not been large scale loss of trees.
3. Damage to ancient forest woodland canopy. As my school teacher might have said if I had written this in a scientific appraisal – explain and justify your statement!
4. Loss of groups of mature broadleaf trees at all stages of development – well is this confused? Mature but at all stages? I’m not sure what the writer is trying to say. Suffice to say that no “group” of trees of any size have been removed at all. The writer is making this up.
5. ....and re-generation – The regeneration of trees is from self seeded opportunity which will take years to develop. My intervention on the ground probably affected a number of self seeding opportunities and as such I affected the biological natural process that would take place on a derelict site. Read up on managed woodland versus non managed and form your own opinion.
6. Loss of individual native trees – same again really.
7. Loss of ground cover – well the ground cover is mainly ground elder and I defy anyone to bring about the loss of ground elder. In some area that were trampled last year for the management of the trees there has been a year where the ground cover was partially covered with soil and leaf mould but I assure you, the root system is still there. There is a lot of bramble, that has been cut back to help the young trees thrive better. Again, the roots are still there. Nettles- the same, Herb species – the same.
8. Negative impact on the future biodiversity which was dependent on the previously undisturbed nature of the woodland – well this lack of disturbance dependency was originally stated in my own woodland management report which states that the “woodland is relatively undisturbed” and that it is “undisturbed due to the steepness of the bank”. These statements continue to ring true. But then it’s easy to pick out words from a report and then throw in that biodiversity word – it used to be called an ecosystem in my day. As to its future biodiversity, it has been enhanced through management, and the stock and range of native planting has increased biodiversity. You should see the ladybirds this year – masses of them.
So what should one make of a statement on a planning site which is damming and inaccurate? Ignore it? Try to correct it? Well there were 3 more pages of similar stuff and I have a life so the latter is a no-no. I have made my correction to this one part only as an example and I invite the writer to examine her conscience.
Today we should get sight of the planning report for our structures and because I have faith in the professionals at the planning department, I am writing this to say now that I will abide by whatever the report recommends. Its 0945 hrs on April 6th and as yet the report is not on line.
But the report is only that – a report. Any other application I have seen for external garden structures would be dealt with by delegated powers i.e. the planning department would write a brief report and make a decision on their own. But not this application. This one is going to committee next week on April 12th where 18 councillors can sit in judgement and can over-rule the planning report recommendation, either way. I know they have each been individually lobbied by the person who wrote the paragraph I have explored above. I met one of the 18 local councillors last week at a political hustings event, Mr Peter Boyes; I held out my hand and said “good evening I’m Susan Goldwyre from the community council, we haven’t met before and welcome to the hustings” He ignored me completely and clearly with intent to ignore me. Does that make you wonder why I might have concerns for my woodland and this planning application. Is Mr Boyes impartial I wonder?
I have a choice though. Because the planning application has taken so long to be assessed I can move to appeal for non-determination. That will take the application to the Scottish Office. For a replacement storage area/sitting out structure, a replacement fence, path widening and steps cut into the bank. What a potential waste of public money.
I never got round to posting the Red Cross Ball report but we did raise £2,000 for the first dinner event and then £1,800 for a second dinner. The painting I think raised £650. We donated a dinner and a painting to the CF Ball last week but still to hear what they raised. If only letter writing raised money what a rich world we could live in. And I use the term rich in its widest possible sense.
I'm off to my garden.........