Environmentalist hits out at council’s ‘war on trees’

Trees to be felled on Box Moor Trust land.
Trees to be felled on Box Moor Trust land.

A passionate environmentalist has hit out at Dacorum Borough Council for ‘making a war’ on trees.

Christine Hillier, of Herbert Street, Hemel Hempstead, was upset when she came across council contractors felling four cherry trees and an acacia tree outside Elizabeth House, next to Austin Place in the old town.

Ms Hillier, who is an artist, said: “It’s just totally unneccessary to cut down these beautiful trees – spring will now be a disappointment.

“Now all that there is left for residents are bare brick walls, plus earth and grass – as well as a loss of privacy.”

A spokesman from Dacorum Borough Council said the trees, which are thought to have stood there between 15 and 20 years, were felled because they were ‘not a good choice of tree for that location’.

They said: “The five trees were growing on a narrow grass strip between the flats and boundary wall, hitting the windows and excluding daylight from the flats.

“They had been pruned on seven occasions since 2005, and had become become unbalanced as a result.”

Ms Hillier replied: “The amenity and aesthetic value has been ignored. All trees are important to the environment as a habitat for birds and insects, stabilising the soil, and are essential providers of oxygen – especially at a time of climate change.

“Hardly a twig had ever been blown off these trees over the years – just the annual storm of delicate pink petals falling on the fortunate.

“This council are making war on trees, cutting and lopping trees all over Dacorum.Please give trees a chance.”

Between 2014 and 2015, 98 trees were felled across the borough – including on highways, parks and housing areas for reasons such as decay, house subsidence and root damage to footpaths.

However, there are 554 named Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) across the borough, which protects ‘visually important trees’ from being felled.

If a TPO-protected tree is pruned or cut down, the person responsible could be fined up to £20,000.

To find out how to apply for a TPO, visit www.dacorum.gov.uk