Feature: are too many trees being felled across our district?

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** Concerns have been raised that too many trees are making way for development across the Warwick district and not being replaced. We spoke to the Warwick Tree Wardens and the district council about the situation ***

Too many trees are being felled and not replaced sufficiently in and around Leamington and Warwick and it could have long term effects on people’s health.

This is the view of the Warwick Tree Wardens who have raised grave concerns after many trees have been earmarked for removal or already cut down as part of development projects within Warwick District Council’s Local Plan.

Europa Way, the main road out of and into Leamington and Warwick from the M40 motorway, and the district council’s current headquarters site Riverside House are the two areas which are most notable for the wardens at present, but they are also worried that as development work continues the impact will get even worse.

Group chairwoman Sarah Ridgeway said: “40,000 people die unnecessarily early every year because of pollution - in 2016 The World Health Organisation highlighted Leamington as being one of the worst places in the UK for air pollution.

“Warwick rated just as badly a couple of years earlier.

“With 20,000 new houses expected over the next 10 to 15 years, pollution levels will increase still further, and more people will die.

“Houses and transport are an important part of our lives but so is our health. “Trees are our main mitigation against pollution, flooding etc, absorbing up to 20 per cent of all the pollutants affecting out health.

“Nothing else does as much or is, today, as cost effective.

“So why are we are felling trees faster than we’re planting?

“Warwickshire is the third least leafy county in England and getting worse.

“Tree-lined roads command a premium in terms of house prices, so it seems illogical that having paid this premium, planning applications are submitted, to fell those same trees because they’ve become an inconvenience by blocking a view, or hinder our parking.

“Trees are often given a low priority by a local authority, with anything not recognised as a tangible asset considered expendable.

“An independent and very experienced arborist has recently valued the 43 trees which are to be felled at Riverside House at between £850,000 and £1 million. This is a lot of money to throw away and not replace an equally large loss in terms of ‘preventative medicine’.

“This value is based on an evaluation process, CAVAT, which is used by a growing number of local authorities - including most of the London boroughs and Birmingham – which have a much higher density of population than Warwick district.

“These councils consider their trees as financial assets, paid for by and benefitting residents and businesses.

“They also recognise that it takes between 40 and 50 young trees to do the same work of one mature, native tree, so are reluctant to fell them unless essential. There are several other areas in the district where the balance of people, buildings and landscape have lost their equilibrium, and people’s health is knowingly being put at risk.

“It should not be a choice between transport, homes and health.

“All are important.

“It may already be too late for some, but it’s never too late to change.”