Llandaff Fields tree felling – the urgent questions that need answers

Trees being felled from within Llandaff Fields public park

Cardiff Council has reached a nadir, even by its own standards.  This time, Cardiff Council planning committee sanctioned the felling of mature trees within the park, effectively prioritising the needs of the developer – who wanted a view for his new apartment block – over the health, wellbeing and pleasure of the community.  

Cardiff Council has a poor grasp of its statutory obligations to maintain and enhance biodiversity under Section 6 of the Environment Wales (2016) Act).  And, despite declaring a Climate Emergency in March 2019, it also fails to understand that trees are our frontline defence against a warming climate.

Furthermore, conservation red-listed song and mistle thrushes rely on mature trees for nesting sites and winter refuge, now these mature trees are gone.

Our colleague, and fellow tree campaigner, Katherine Jones, a key voice in the Suffolk House campaign, has also unearthed worrying discrepancies relating to the procedures stated in the planning permission document and the developer’s actions. 

Katherine’s concerns are outlined below in the text of a message she sent on Monday 8 June.

“I write to voice my concerns about the tree felling procedures that have happened today [8 June] in Llandaff Fields. 

There are a number of aspects which relate to the discrepancy between the arboricultural report and what has actually happened. I would like a written response to all of the following points:

1. Planning permission was granted with the condition that the works should be carried out in accordance with the Arboricultural Method Statement:

2. Having cross checked the Arboricultural Method Statement, I can see the following statements have been made:
3. This is the aspect I am most concerned about. The arboricultural report clearly states (Section 3.0) : ‘the felling and clearing of the trees will be undertaken between 1 October and 1 March inclusively.’ It is currently the 8th June and is slap bang in the middle of bird nesting season. The tree contractors told me themselves that an ecologist has not been out to inspect the trees prior to their removal. This is unacceptable and sets a dangerous precedent for felling trees during the bird nesting season.  Could you please reply to this point as a matter of urgency?
4. The notes in the report and also on the drawing state that ‘no construction work can be undertaken from the Llandaff Field side. All construction works must be undertaken from the site side only.’ This was not the case – the tree felling was happening from within Llandaff Fields. (photo above).
5. There are numerous references to a method statement being needed before the works can happen. Was there an additional method statement that answers my above points? I cannot see this as part of the planning documentation, therefore if there is, I question why it is not online for the public to view, and would like a copy sent to me please.” 
The above information, as described by Katherine, illustrates the degree to which developers in our city feel they can operate with impunity.  

Last year we demanded better protection for mature trees in planning procedure by asking a public question at full council.  Our request was agreed to by the cabinet member for Culture and Leisure, but at a meeting in January 2020,  our demands for action not words were met with obfuscation by the Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, and the head of planning.

It is time for the public to give voice to its sense of outrage, or such travesties will continue unabated.

Here is the full planning report, which was accepted by the planning committee. It includes the planning conditions referred to above:

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