Cedar felling must not set a wrecking precedent

SIR - Many Sid Vale Association members have expressed great dismay over the destruction of the mature cedar of Lebanon and the Monterey pine within the grounds of Cedar Shade.

SIR - Many Sid Vale Association members have expressed great dismay over the destruction of the mature cedar of Lebanon and the Monterey pine within the grounds of Cedar Shade.Approximately four weeks ago, I was contacted by an SVA member, informing me that a tree surgeon was operating within the grounds of Cedar Shade.We understand this first tree surgeon was asked to quote to fell both trees and in addition a mature beech tree. He refused to do so because they were, in his opinion, not diseased or a danger to the public.Brian Hall, chairman of the SVA Conservation committee, immediately contacted the tree officer at EDDC, and warned him the developer was seeking to fell these trees. Brian expressed our concern for the safety of these trees. He asked him to ensure the trees were not felled by the developer. We received an assurance he would visit to see what was happening.On April 1, Mr Hall received a number of calls from alarmed members that work had commenced on the destruction of these trees. He checked again with the tree officer, whose response was that he had agreed to the tree felling as the trees would be unlikely to last the expected life of the redevelopment.The SVA had supported the revised plans for the redevelopment of the Cedar Shade site, but it was beyond belief that it would take place at the cost of losing these fine arboreal specimens. The SVA was of the opinion the trees were covered by Tree Protection Orders. We have now discovered that, although this had been the case, the TPO was suspended in order to allow redevelopment to take place.If this information appeared on the revised plans, it was certainly not highlighted!A suspended TPO implies that it is temporary action, and will be restored. In this case it seems to have been a convenient way of allowing the destruction of healthy trees, of no danger to anyone, except the financial considerations of the developer. It suggests the re-developer must have intended from the start to destroy these trees, otherwise he would have planned to include them within his planning application.This must not be allowed to become a most dangerous precedent to wholesale wrecking of Sidmouth's heritage. At the annual meeting of Sidmouth Town Council on April 3, the chairman, Councillor Tom Cox, emphasised to all members of the council that, under its newly devolved powers, it was now the responsibility of each councillor to be watchful and aware of intended destruction of trees, and the likely effects upon the Sidmouth scene. We are grateful for his evident concern.At the same meeting, the chairman of the council's planning committee, Chris Gibbings, said the developer had agreed to replant a Cedar of Lebanon and other trees on the site. Although this is of some comfort, we would have preferred the intended redevelopment to have included the healthy mature trees.Handel Bennett SVA Chairman

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