City Councillor Sarah Murray and Parish Councillor John Rudge have slammed years of inaction by the City Council under Conservative leadership over the threatened closure of a much loved woodland in Warndon Villages due to Ash Dieback.
Ash Dieback is a fungus which penetrates into a tree via spores. Once inside the trees main body it grows blocking the main water transport systems causing the tree to die.
With 75-80% of Ash trees in the area under threat from this destructive disease, the Councillors have been left dumbfounded that no action has been taken, despite being aware of the disease since 2012.
At a public meeting last week, Officers advised that, because of the extent of the damage, one solution might be to flatten New Plantation Woods and re-plant the area affected. Tolladine Woods, the ancient woodland next to the Evangelical Church might have to be closed to the public due to the danger of trees falling.
Cllr Sarah Murray said, ‘This is an environmental disaster which has been ignored for such a long time that we are now faced with the worst possible outcomes that could lead to the loss of access to a much loved, local amenity highly valued by the residents of Warndon Villages.
Access to the woodland is essential for the health, wellbeing and enjoyment of local residents and the habitat of local wildlife. The ancient woodland is a haven for wildlife and provides numerous walking routes and short cuts and is especially loved by dog walkers . If residents are denied access, the natural environment loved by many residents will be lost.’
Councillor John Rudge told us, ‘The City Council have known about this problem for over 10 years but seem to have buried their heads in the sand over the issue. The longer you leave the problem, the more expensive it becomes to solve it. As the trees become more diseased, they become dangerous to work on and, as a last resort, may need to be felled with explosives rather than chainsaws.’
Following a recent tour of the woods provided by the City’s Tree Officer, Harry Simms, one local resident, David Smith, commented, ‘The message was delivered very clearly; the problem is serious and extensive. The officer explained that close to 75% of the wood is going to die. I would hope that the safety of the public is going to be a priority rather than wait for an accident. If the timber was going to be felled it could always be sold for wood burning fires, which would potentially give the Council an income stream. Let’s start being proactive, and let’s get the council to be more upfront as to the seriousness of the problem. It is all over the city and outlying districts.’
Cllrs Murray and Rudge are calling for the City to take positive steps to manage and preserve this ancient woodland for the benefit of all concerned.