Honiton: District council unanimously supports tree protection proposals

  Posted: 28.07.21 at 11:25 by Philippa Davies

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A strategy for better protecting East Devon’s trees looks set to be introduced by the district council.

At its meeting yesterday evening (Tuesday, July 27) the council unanimously agreed to condemn the practice of felling trees on sites which are soon to be the subject of planning applications.

Councillors also voted unanimously to ‘urgently’ bring forward a scoping report for the tree strategy, as the first stage to developing a full tree strategy.

This strategy will include a policy on the use of Tree Protection Orders to prevent ‘unscrupulous’ developers from cutting down trees on sites they want to build on, before applying for planning permission.

The scoping report is expected to be brought to the Overview meeting in October.

How did this come about?

The motion on drawing up a tree protection strategy was put forward by Cllr Jess Bailey (Independent, West Hill & Aylesbeare).

After the meeting, she said: “During the debate I spoke of my experiences as a ward member of the woodland village of West Hill and how over eight years I have experienced hundreds of trees being felled.

“During the debate I learned that I was far from alone with other councillors facing similar experiences.

“And it’s not just councillors who have strong views on the importance of trees. Ed Dolphin from the Sidmouth Arboretum voiced support for the formation of a tree strategy for East Devon District Council, and resident Gary Sherman spoke eloquently about his concerns in West Hill on the impact of tree removal on wildlife and the need to take action and show leadership.”

Why the original motion was amended

Cllr Bailey’s motion originally asked the council to ‘agree a robust tree policy which includes pro-actively making Tree Protection Orders’, but she agreed to amend it after hearing that this policy would need to be drawn up at a later stage, either during the scoping or as part of the later discussions.

The motion – unanimously supported - now reads as follows:

This council recognizes the immense contribution that trees make to our district - shaping the landscape, providing a vital habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon to help combat climate change and playing an essential role in the eco-system by absorbing rainwater and preventing erosion.
Trees are also vital to our communities enhancing well-being, connecting people with their natural environment, providing shade and peace, cooling the streets, marking the seasons and giving our communities a sense of ‘place’.
In light of the key role of trees:
This council condemns the practice of pre-emptive tree felling prior to the submission of planning applications.
This council agrees that a scoping and indicative report of a tree strategy be urgently brought to the next available Overview meeting.

Cllr Bailey said: “I’m really pleased that as a result of my motion the council has expressed its opposition to pre-emptive tree felling and that it is now full steam ahead to progressing the council’s tree strategy.”

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