Anger from residents as council chops down healthy trees
Lewis Smith Local Democracy Reporter
Residents in a Welsh village say they have been left angry and disappointed this week after the felling of a number of trees in a public park – many due to roots breaking through pathways.
The six mature trees that were based in Neath Port Talbot’s Skewen Park were removed by the local town council last week, after what was described as health and safety issues following a storm.
The removal of the trees was also said to have been due to the “urgent repair” needed to the path which wasn’t possible because of the tree roots that kept breaking through.
However, a number of residents have reacted to the felling, with one describing the incident as “an act of pure vandalism” while another added that the trees had always been one of the attractions of the park.
Councillor Nathan Goldup-John is a member of the Green Party in Neath Port Talbot, and said he had now requested an emergency tree preservation order, to protect the rest of the trees within Skewen Park.
He said: “Residents made me aware that Skewen town council were planning to chop down six mature trees on Sunday, 28 January. I contacted the town council querying this situation and appealing to them to pause while we see the arboricultural report stating the condition of the trees as it was claimed they were storm damaged.
“This never materialised and the town council continued to fell the trees. It’s disappointing that this was done with no scrutiny or assurance the correct process has been followed.”
He added: “I notified Neath Port Talbot Council on Monday 29 January, and as a result they have filed an Emergency Tree Preservation Order, temporarily protecting all the trees within Skewen Park. Neath Port Talbot Council have also reached out to offer advice to Coedfranc Town Council on their legal obligations under the Town and County Planning act and Welsh Government policy.
“I am disappointed that Coedfranc Town Council have acted in this way as these actions will have a long lasting impact on the park. However, I would like to thank Neath Port Talbot Council for their swift action to protect the remaining trees.”
A spokesperson from Coedfranc Town Council said: “There were two trees removed after the storm as they were dangerous. The further trees which have been removed on the path are due to the urgent repair needed to that path. We have tried repairing several times, each time the roots from the trees have broken through.
“The path has now become an issue with health and safety and we need to act to repair, if we were to cut through the roots this would disturb the foundations of the trees, so we had to make the difficult decision to lose four trees.
“Although this is very sad we are going to replant Cherry Blossom trees along the path to replace the ones we have had to lose. These are smaller and the roots will not damage the pathway.”
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