Anger over ringbarked oaks in West Hill

COUNCILLORS have blasted the actions of a developer as ‘scandalous’ after two prominent trees were fatally damaged in West Hill.

The pair of oaks at Crantock in West Hill Road were damaged by a process known as ring-barking, although they are not protected by any legal preservation order.

The actions were branded as ‘disgusting’ and ‘vandalism’ by councillors at a meeting earlier this month.

Ring-barking is fatal and irreversible, and the dying trees will now have to be removed.

Ottery councillor Robin Mitchell said the actions amounted to ‘vandalism for profit’ and Jo Talbot said she was concerned about the precedent it could set.

She added: “If developers keep cutting trees down to build more houses then it won’t be called a ‘woodland village’ anymore – it’ll be called a housing estate.

“Can we not be stronger in our approach to the decimation of trees in West Hill?”

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Councillor Roger Giles described the situation at Crantock as ‘scandalous’ and ‘a disgusting piece of work’.

But land owner Hugo Headon, director of H&H Prestige Homes, defended his actions and said a tree report he commissioned advised that one of the oaks overhanging West Hill Road was becoming a serious danger.

He said the report stated that work to trim back the branches would add serious stress to the tree and therefore felling it was a justifiable option.

The report also advised that to ensure the second oak was worth keeping, it would need to be subjected to a set of expensive tests - and that arguably the tree was not worth the cost.

Mr Headon added that he was considering replacing the trees.

Councillor Claire Wright told the Herald the loss of the oaks was ‘sickening’ and that she expected to see a planning application submitted in the near future.

She added: “They know they won’t be allowed to fell them if they apply for planning first – there would be objections and tree preservation orders would be issued.

“West Hill is particularly under threat from this sort of thing because there are properties with big gardens that developers want to build on, and some see the trees as just being in the way.”

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