Residents and local tree wardens have been left upset and angry after Lewes District Council’s contractors accidentally chopped down 1,000 trees at Chalvington Fields.
Seaford Tree Wardens, a small group of volunteers who plant trees across the area, arranged for 1,000 new trees to be planted at Chalvington Field in November of last year.
People of all ages were joined by local councillors, including then MP Norman Baker, and their families to get together and plant the trees.
However, last week, contractors working on behalf of Lewes District Council chopped down the saplings while cutting the grass – much to the shock and despair of the local community who worked so hard to plant them.
A spokesperson for the Seaford Tree Wardens said: “The contractors have admitted responsibility for their mistake and said they will replant the 1,000 trees, so in that respect the problem is resolved. However, it is still quite upsetting because they won’t be the same trees that so many members of the community worked hard to plant. We had people of all ages come along on the day and help us plant the trees, and many of them were saying how good it would be to see the tree fully grown and say ‘I planted that’.
“There was obviously a mistake made by the contractor who couldn’t tell the difference between our saplings and the grass and wild flowers they were supposed to cut down. As a result, I would like to see better training so members of staff can identify trees and not make the same mistake again.”
A statement released by Burley’s, the contractors responsible, said: “Having investigated the concerns relating to Chalvington Field in association with Lewes District Council , Burley’s takes full responsibility for the reduction and clearance of vegetation including saplings at this site.
“While an internal investigation is underway to establish what went wrong and why, we confirm we will replace in full the stock destroyed by our actions and will work with the Community Planting Team regards a replanting programme, providing the appropriate resources to assist.
“We extend our most sincere apologies to all those affected by our actions, and assure you this is a unique situation against the acknowledged reputation for community and environmental work we do for Lewes District Council.
Our regional manager and community liaison officer have been to the site to see the concern firsthand and work with Lewes District Council, Seaford Town Council and the Community Planting Group to ensure all aspects are addressed to everyone’s fullest satisfaction.”
Lewes District Council also issued an apology about the incident on Friday, October 2. It said: “We sincerely apologise for the cutting down of young trees planted at Chalvington Fields, Seaford by the community – this was a mistake. We will work with our contractor to get these trees replanted as quickly as possible to ensure that the situation is put right. We will work with Burley’s management team to look into the matter, liaising with local groups, to ensure this does not happen again.”