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Council Round-Up: Chop ALL The Trees

July 17th 2013

The Malt Kiln

The Malt Kiln

flooding at Hubbards Hills

Flooding at Hubbard's Hills in January 2013

The town council meeting of 16th July featured a mixture of promising and worrying discussions for the natural environment. There are some pretty expensive improvements in the works, but they run the risk of being jeopardised by other things that work against them.

Flood group upset

First off, in the public forum Councillor Eileen Ballard expressed dismay at the way the new flood liaison group was working. "I was invited to leave," she said. "I was annoyed."

This is the group that the council formed with the merger of the surface water group and the river flooding group in May. It includes residents as well as councillors.

Aldi and the Malt Kiln

Councillor Roger Featherstone said he was "most encouraged" by Aldi's exhibition of their plans for the Malt Kiln.

Councillor Pauline Watson had more information to supply, following her talks with the developers. "There is a worry if Aldi sell it [the site] on," she said. However, she was able to quote correspondence from Claire Temple of developers Planning Potential, who told her "Aldi will be purchasing this site directly."

"I would be happy with Aldi there, with Lidl there, but I wouldn't be happy with a lot of other things," Councillor Watson said. "Aldi are extremely keen on having this site for themselves."

The River Lud attenuation scheme

Andrew Barron of the Environment Agency gave the council an update on plans to improve Louth's flood defences. This involves the creation of two flood storage areas, with the capacity to hold between 70 000 and 100 000 cubic metres of water. This would be up a raised embankment, with a pipe to let water through. He spoke of the need to engage members of the public, to "make sure people affected are aware of what we're doing."

"A substantial amount of money is coming from the county council," Mr Barron said.

Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders asked for reassurances about the situation with regards to silt in the river. "I'm not sure you're not going to damage the chalk streams," she said.

Councillor Laura Stephenson raised the issue of climate change.

"What we're looking at is to design with climate change in mind," Mr Barron replied.

This is a major scheme that could be up and running by 2015. I haven't seen any maps yet, but overall it seems promising news for the town's flood security.

Felling trees

I see trees as giant water towers, anchoring the soil with their roots and preventing erosion. The Woodland Trust says they "can help lessen the effects and risks of flooding." So you can see why I feel the next item on the agenda seems like a step backwards.

The town clerk, Linda Blankley, gave an update on the application to allow works to trees at the quarry which borders the cemetery. The owners applied for permission to coppice 36 trees due to fears that they were causing the quarry walls to collapse.

If it was decided that the trees were a danger, it would mean all of them would have to be cut down. "It is almost an all or nothing scenario," the clerk reported.

The discussion touched on the diversity of the trees, the wildlife they shelter, and whether or not their roots are holding up the cemetery banks. This brings up the alarming prospect of soil erosion causing the graves to slip and become exposed.

However, Councillor Andrew Leonard, who is on the Hubbards Hills Trust, was very sceptical about this application. "The developers are only doing it for their own gain," he said. He cited his experience in Hubbards Hills, saying "trees disappear and the chalk banks collapse."

But this isn't merely about one application. "LCC are responsible for the trees on the west side of the road. They have concerns for the same reason," the clerk said.

Councillor Sue Locking said she thought the trees were "having a good effect." On a similar note the Mayor, David Wing, said "I don't like trees being taken down."

Councillor Leonard spoke of the difficulty of re-establishing trees in Hubbard's Hills once they are felled. "We can't replant in the chalk banks," he said. Councillor Stephenson also pointed out that "young trees increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We need to have old trees rather than new."

The council agreed to defer a decision on this until they had more information. However, this discussion seems to indicate that the battle is on to preserve the trees not just in the quarry, but around the county, if councils are having to consider them as a cause of erosion. It seems to me that if this self-serving, unproven argument gains any traction we can look forward to a barren environment where the flood risk is worse, not better.

Mandula Lodge

And on the subject of flooding, the town council rejected a planning application for Mandula Lodge on the basis of its surface water flood risk, amongst other things. However ELDC approved this application in spite of LTC's recommendations.


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