Landmark Welwyn Garden City tree felling stopped

WORKERS hacking down a WGC large mature oak tree were halted this week.

Alarmed residents, who were awoken Friday morning to the sound of chain saws, put in emergency calls to Welwyn Hatfield Council to demand a stop to the works.

The tree which sits on the edge of Longcroft Lane and Church Road is part of the site set for redevelopment by Sainsbury’s and is due to be removed ready for the installation of a wider roundabout to accommodate extra traffic.

However a spokesman for the Lib Dem party, which was alerted to the situation, said: “No-one was aware the tree was under threat – not Welwyn Hatfield Council, which is not only the planning authority, but also manages the roadside trees on behalf of the county council.”

Malcolm Cowan, was equally unaware as the council, his fellow party-members and nearby residents whose sleep had been broken by the early start.

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The Lib Dem county councillor for Handside and Peartree has demanded in a letter to Herts Highways that no further work takes place until “sensible discussions” are held and there is an alternative road layout.

Welwyn Hatfield Council has also called for the works to be stopped “until the situation is clarified”.

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Mr Cowan, pictured, said: “The complete lack of any consultation or notification is quite appalling.

“The application by Sainsbury’s for planning consent took around a year; at no time was I consulted, despite clear guidelines to involve the local member.

“Welwyn Hatfield planners say they are still awaiting drawings for the road layout, months after the work on the new store has started.

“And to come and wield the chainsaws without warning the neighbours they would be woken up is just plain rude.”

The Peartree borough councillor added: “The tree has been growing for at least 60 years; it deserves a lot more consideration than it seems to have had.

“Relations between county and borough council are not good – this sort of high-handedness only makes things worse.”

A Herts Highways spokeswoman said: “Tree surgeons, working on behalf of the Sainsbury’s developers, turned up to trim the tree, prior to the start of the bird nesting season.

“This was in preparation for eventually removing the tree during the main highway improvement works, which are being programmed for some time this summer.

“Welwyn Hatfield Council, as the planning authority, and Hertfordshire County Council, as the highways authority, will be discussing the removal of the tree with the developers.”

Paul Tyler, Sainsbury’s project manager, added: “We are aware of the issue and are working with the council on the situation.”

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