Discussion Forum

Raw Lane Tree Felling

Posted by Derek Loney, Friday, March 29, 2002

Over New Year someone took a chainsaw to a total of 36 young trees and saplings including sessile oak and newly resurgent elm etc. Two mature oaks had branches removed quite unnecessarily as they were too high to obstruct anything much less than a London omnibus! Two other young trees had branches lopped off which actually grew to the north - away from the track: utterly pointless.

Oak and young elm, hawthorn, elder, ash and sycamore all fell victim to this unknown vandal. One tree acted as a "staging post" for woodpeckers traversing the "Brinks". Another, a hawthorn, was a popular habitat for wrens and robins. All had contributed to the attractiveness of the lane and formed an important part of the hillside and, in total, already represented the equivalent of more than 500 years of growth.

There can be no reason or excuse as cars and other vehicles could pass along the lane without hindrance. Those hawthorns nearest to the verges were kept trimmed back. The only possible damage, or scratches to walkers, might occur from the brambles but they still remain! At a time when many will wish to plant and encourage trees this destruction can only be described as a senseless act of vandalism.

In the course of years there would gradually have been some encroachment over the track but this could have been dealt with when it became necessary. This would have allowed the trees to have indulged in self-propogation and so (re)seed the banks of the Brinks to a greater extent. Indeed I had kept the hawthorns cut back regularly with secateurs over the years so that they did not overlap the lane mainly in order to discourage more drastic action: fruitless as it turned out!

Sad! I have been watching them appear as seedlings and grow over the years where previously there had been no trees due to the ravages of unrestricted sheep grazing. As they developed this then encouraged and extended the bird life - and so on!

Height Road is a slightly different matter. That "avenue" formed by the trees of Han Royd Wood and those bordering the north side of the road was on the one hand a very attractive feature of the road and hill-side while additionally, and more importantly, it formed a significant habitat for bats and swallows in the summer. Driving through towards dusk one would see many bats flitting in front of and above the car: similarly on a sunny day the swallows revelled in it. Both elements occurred because of the tree canopy and warmth/sometimes damp that encouraged numerous moths and other insects on which they would feed.

It remains to seen whether the bats and swallows reappear this year.

It was in fact the Calderdale Highways Dept that cut them down. They had notified the Council's Forestry Section of their intention to fell 8 trees in the wood which had become dangerous due to rot and age; there was no notification regarding all the others.

The trees to the north bordered rather than intruded on the carriageway. Only where wagons (from the Old Town development) had deliberately driven the margins and broken down the edges did the trees then begin to overlap. Due partly to such wagons, and to the Council spraying weedkiller, the edges of the road have become widened. Tarmac without compaction or hardcore had then been put down to effectively widen the road; this in turn has then broken down leaving an arid and rough uneven border in some parts at a lower level than the carriageway.

Drivers then have the impression that the carriageway is wider than in fact is the tarmac surface and this results in vehicles being forced off the carriageway - and so it goes on! In the face of an oncoming vehicle one has the option of either stopping at the edgeway of the proper carriageway and risking a collision, or going off the tarmac and risking damage to your car from the rough borders.

Not yet quite as wide as the M62, but when I moved here most of that section of road was single carriageway and one simply could not pass: much safer!

The felling of the trees was not done in a professional manner. Some of the boles were left torn (later to be trimmed straight) while others still remain standing at 3ft - 4ft. Some of the larger boles left in the bank in fact could now cause serious damage because they are less obvious for strangers than when there were fully fledged trees along the margins. Additionally many of the trees felled on the north side of the road were simply thrown down into Han Royd Wood (private property) on the south side. And this was the Borough Council!

When, in due course, the old roots rot away they will no longer contribute to supporting the dry stone walls bordering the road and these will become even more prevalent to collapse.

No-one I have spoken to at the Council has cared to take up the matter of the apparent damage to a bat habitat despite the provisions of the law.

What I have suggested is that there do not appear to be appropriate protocols in place to ensure that Highways (who do have certain over-riding powers in relation to highway safety) consult with, for example, the Forestry Section where there might possibly be additional factors such as protected wild-life or, indeed, the desirability of allowing extended life to permit further self-seeding; or additionally replacement of felled trees by saplings planted in more satisfactory places. So far as I know this has not been pursued by officers.