Civic Society in attack on council’s tree policy

This article appeared in the Western Mail on Jan 18, 2020. It is written by their chief reporter, Martin Shipton. We are hugely grateful to the Western Mail for their support. Please check out walesonline.co.uk for more excellent coverage on environmental issues* Please support high quality campaiging journalism about our capital city by buying the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo.

THE group that campaigns for the preservation of Cardiff’s heritage has accused the city council of having a fundamental flaw in its planning policy by failing to protect 150-year-old trees.

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, who chairs Cardiff Civic Society, has supported residents who are campaigning to retain trees on the site of a former listed care home in the city’s Canton district that has been demolished and faces replacement by a new housing development.

Local councillor Iona Gordon has said she backed the felling of trees at the site after being advised to do so by the council’s conservation officer and tree officer.

In a letter to Cardiff West AM Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, and others, Ms Lloyd-Pierce quoted a comment she had received from an officer of the tree protection group the Arboricultural Association, which said: “It’s clear that these are extremely important trees.

“Although I don’t know all the ins and outs, losing them will clearly have a major impact on the locality, an impact that is extremely unlikely to be fully mitigated by new planting.

“The new site simply won’t be compatible with allowing trees of this stature to develop – and even if they could do so, it would take the best part of 100 years.”

Ms Lloyd-Pierce said: “This is in direct contrast to the observations made by the council’s two officers.

“It is clear that while a framework exists in practice, it is not being applied. This is not a criticism of Councillor Gordon, it is a reflection on the fundamental flaws in Cardiff Council’s planning policy, and the flawed advice given to the members of the planning committee.

“While this system continues unchecked, we have no hope of protecting Cardiff ’s mature, green infrastructure, protection that is needed as a matter of urgency given that we are facing a Climate Emergency.”

A spokesman for Cardiff council responded: “As the Arboricultural Association expert points out by their own admission, they do not know the ‘ins and outs’ of this application and the subsequent decision taken by the committee.

“The council’s tree officer was at the planning committee meeting and provided clarification to the committee members on all of the technical detail that was asked, prior to a decision being taken.

“It is important to note that committee members do not have to take the advice of planning officers, as the final decision is their choice.”

*This article is not yet available on Wales Online

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