October 21, 2017

1,000 trees in Basildon are saved from the chop…for now

Basildon

Angry councillors have voted down Basildon Council’s plans to chop down more than 1,000 trees in a bid to slash insurance premium claim costs.

At a regeneration and environment committee meeting last week, the council proposed a five-year action plan to axe 1,156 council-owned trees which were identified as “high demanding water species”.

These trees are deemed likely to cause subsidence damage to properties, or cause injuries to residents if they trip over a tree’s roots.

A report said each year the council receives 23 insurance claims which costs around £70,000.

For council to carry out its tree removal project it would cost £352,000 but there are no provisions to support this cost.

However, councillors demanded the council provide a clearer plan of what trees would be considered problematic before they are chopped down.

Peter Holliman, Conservative councillor representing Wickford North, disagreed with the council’s move.

He said: “What I suggested at the meeting was that council should assess all the trees in a case by case basis.

“When I asked council which of the thousands of trees are actually problematic they couldn’t provide an answer to my question.

“The council also didn’t provide a clear criteria of which trees in the borough are high demanding water species.

“We need to first identify which trees are potential problems, and which are problematic.”

Terri Sargent, Conservative councillor representing Crouch, said during the meeting: “I am against the culling of trees.

“Several years ago when the council decided to cull thousands of trees the residents were absolutely horrified.

“As I grow older, and everyone like me, we are going to need that extra oxygen.”

David Harrison, Independent councillor for Wickford, said: “Either way, it will cost council money because we still need to pay the public liability insurance.

“We voted to review the trees on a case by case basis because this will give us a better picture of which trees actually need to be sorted.

“It will cost £352,000 for council to chop down 1,156 trees, and at the moment there’s no provision for it.”

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