‘Save our Trees’ – families gather to challenge bid to clear wildlife haven

  Posted: 03.01.22 at 12:35 by Rory Poulter

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More than 40 people gave up their Bank Holiday to fight a developer’s plans to fell trees close to Twickenham Green.

The protest attracted strong support despite being called at short notice with residents angry at the ‘wanton vandalism’ to what has become a wildlife corridor.

A decision by Council planning officers to approve the felling of five trees on the site behind the Prince Albert pub on Hampton Road has angered residents.

Significantly, the plan has also been opposed by Habitats & Heritage (H&H), the charity which is officially designated with the role of caring for the natural and historic environment and climate in south and west London.

The organisation has identified that the ‘backlands’ site makes an important contribution to biodiversity and is used by a number of bat species.

The site has been at the centre of dispute after a developer lodged an application to fell five trees and cut back several others, including a large, mature, Eucalyptus.

The plan has opponents including Friends of the Earth Richmond & Twickenham as well as Habitats & Heritage (H&H).

Despite objections from Friends of Twickenham Green (FoTG) and 50 residents, council planning officials approved the removal of the trees under delegated powers.

Only one large Eucalyptus, which was already subject to a tree preservation order, has been protected.

Residents fear the removal of the trees is part of a piecemeal effort that will lead to a planning application to build on the site.

Howard Roberts, who represents FoTG on environment issues, said: “Aside from hedgehogs, amphibians, nesting bird sites, invertebrates, including stag beetles, the site has significant ecological value being home to a variety of species of bats.”

He criticised the fact that the decision on the trees had been taken by council officials, rather than being passed to elected councillors. Mr Roberts said the process for approving felling the trees was also flawed because a decision was made before Habitats & Heritage had a chance to state its objections.

The organisation has identified that the ‘backlands’ site makes an important contribution to biodiversity and is used by a number of bat species.

He said: “In the year of COP26, to which they publicly give lip service, it would seem that our local politicians have all too quickly lost sight of the ecological value of this plot.

“They seem to content to leave the future of this once thriving wild life corridor in the hands of a developer, who knows the price of this land, but cares not for its value. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

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