Part of the SeeRed remit is to record inadequacy in the response of local councils to wanton acts of vandalism and breaches of planning regulations by landowners or their agents. Many fell protected or much valued trees knowing perfectly well they can get away with it. Sometimes their actions are legal.

Recent felling of trees at Great Clifton, Cumbria by Woodglen Developments of Carlisle provoked outrage  - but what can or will the council do? Should they have given all trees on the site formal protection orders - and should the villagers have demanded this long ago?

A solution would be to give ALL large trees protected status by default, with exceptions for those in forestry areas. Yet even being in a designated conservation area made no difference at Sidford!

If you agree that trees should be better protected please send details of this webpage to your MP. Ask him/her to press for greater protection - and better enforcement of existing legislation.

Woodglen Clifton Hall.jpeg (5547 bytes)          cliftonhall2.jpg (15800 bytes)         Woodglen Clifton Hall.jpeg (5547 bytes)

VILLAGERS in Great Clifton near Workington are in shock after trees they thought they had saved were felled. Local people have fought for over a year to stop the grounds of Clifton Hall being developed for houses. They finally won their campaign last month after a planning appeal was turned down by Government inspectors.

But on Tuesday morning they awoke to discover the bulldozers had moved in regardless. Dozens of felled trees, once home to red squirrels and other wildlife, now lie in heaps in front of the historic hall.

Several protected trees have been left untouched but residents are aghast that so many have been cut down without any warning. Workington MP Tony Cunningham visited the site this week and branded it a disgrace. “As I see it, this is just wanton vandalism and the only conclusion it that it has been done out of spite,” he said.

“The residents are incredibly angry and quite rightly. I have spoken to Allerdale officers and am publicly calling for prosecutions. “We’ve just lost hundreds of trees in the recent storms but these have withstood all that - it really is a disgrace.”

Carlisle-based developer Woodglen originally applied for permission to build a large estate in front of the hall and five houses to one side. Both were refused by Allerdale councillors but the firm then took it to appeal.

The most controversial part of the scheme, nearest the hall, was turned down, although permission was granted for the other five houses. Villagers now believe Tuesday’s felling was a bitter reaction to the failed appeal.

“As far as I’m concerned, the felling of these trees is nothing more than an act of malicious vandalism,” said nearby resident Helen Dempsey

“The plans for developing on the grounds and directly around the hall were refused so there can be no logical reason for this barbaric act. “As a group of ordinary people, we have done everything we absolutely could to protect the hall and it’s grounds, but obviously our efforts have been in vain.”

Allerdale officers are now investigating the felling after visiting the site. Woodglen Developments were not available for comment yesterday.

The story above was covered by local newspapers (February 2005):

A HOUSING developer which cut down dozens of trees in a West Cumbrian village is under investigation by Defra. Woodglen Developments Ltd of Longtown was responsible for felling trees in the grounds of Clifton Hall in February. The tree felling caused uproar in the village of Great Clifton and now the firm, owned by Mike Cotter, is under investigation.

Locals fought for over a year to stop the grounds of Clifton Hall being developed for houses. They thought they had safeguarded the future of the Georgian hall after fighting and winning a planning inquiry to prevent Woodglen from building modern houses all around the hall. They said a new estate would be detrimental to the hall's wildlife, including the protected red squirrels.

Limited permission for five homes was granted at the southern end of the grounds where a permission already existed to remove some trees. But Woodglen went ahead and felled trees throughout the grounds where permission had been refused.

Workington MP Tony Cunningham visited the site in February and branded it a "disgrace".
He even raised the matter in the House of Commons. Villagers then complained to Allerdale Council saying that, as the planning authority, they had failed to protect the hall.

Allerdale's chief planning officer Ric Outhwaite told councillors in an earlier meeting that Woodglen had been very careful with the felling. He said although Woodglen had felled a lot of mature trees, they had left the ones that were the subject of individual protection orders.

Defra told villagers on Monday that it was now investigating on behalf of the Forestry Commission, with a view to prosecuting Woodglen and making the firm replant the trees.

Under the Forestry Act there is a strict limit on the amount of timber that can be felled without applying for a licence from Defra.

Any prosecution would go before West Allerdale Magistrates Court which could impose fines and an order to replant the types of trees which were felled.

This story is from a local newspaper - link below:

an update to this story, in July 2011

back to top of section

back to home page