Rewil­d­ing Plan to plant trees axed af­ter ob­jec­tions

Bristol Post - - NEWS - Heather PICKSTOCK heather.pickstock@reach­plc.com

PLANS to plant hun­dreds of trees at a coastal beauty spot in Cleve­don have been scrapped af­ter a wave of op­po­si­tion.

North Som­er­set Coun­cil had an­nounced plans to plant more than 1,000 trees on the grassy slope lead­ing down to the sea next to the Wal­ton Park Ho­tel.

The plant­ing is part of the au­thor­ity’s rewil­d­ing scheme which will see thou­sands of new trees planted right across the district over the next sev­eral years.

But res­i­dents set up a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the scheme to be stopped, which col­lected more than 1,000 sig­na­tures in just two days.

They say the land has been used by lo­cal peo­ple for more than a cen­tury and is also a pop­u­lar pic­nic area and place for young peo­ple to play.

The pe­ti­tion was or­gan­ised by res­i­dent Tom Vaughan and lo­cal coun­cil­lor Caro­line Cherry. They are now call­ing for the coun­cil to work with res­i­dents on a scheme to im­prove the land next to Wal­ton Park.

A friends group has now been set up with res­i­dents urged to join and have their say.

Mr Vaughan said: “This has been a vic­tory for peo­ple power, and I’m very grate­ful to the peo­ple of Cleve­don who wrote let­ters and added their names to the pe­ti­tion so quickly, and in many cases in­cluded com­ments ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of re­tain­ing this much-loved open space and its stun­ning view.

“My aim now is to main­tain the pos­i­tiv­ity of the cam­paign and come up with ideas which en­sure Wal­ton Park can be pre­served and im­proved for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. With this in mind, we have set up a group called Friends of Wal­ton Park, Cleve­don, and are invit­ing lo­cal res­i­dents want­ing to be part of fu­ture plans to please sign up to this group.”

Coun­cil­lor Cherry said the site was in­valu­able for peo­ple lo­cally, es­pe­cially those without a gar­den.

Coun­cil­lor Cherry said: “Wal­ton Park is an in­valu­able green space for chil­dren, par­ents and many older res­i­dents who take ex­er­cise, play and sit in this area,” she said.

“Many res­i­dents were very con­cerned that this unique vista would be lost for­ever.

“I’m de­lighted that Wal­ton Park will re­tain its views over the chan­nel and con­tinue to be used as a green space for the com­mu­nity.”

The coun­cil’s rewil­d­ing pro­gramme in­volves cre­at­ing new habi­tats across the district to en­able wildlife to flour­ish and help ad­dress cli­mate change.

Af­ter declar­ing a cli­mate emer­gency ear­lier this year, coun­cil­lors agreed unan­i­mously to put in place the rewil­d­ing pro­gramme.

Of­fi­cers have now iden­ti­fied ar­eas of coun­cil-owned land as po­ten­tial sites for rewil­d­ing by ei­ther plant­ing trees or al­low­ing the grass to grow taller.

Un­der its rewil­d­ing pro­gramme it is look­ing to in­crease wildlife and bio­di­ver­sity by con­vert­ing around 16 per cent of this “amenity grass” to tall grass ar­eas and a fur­ther 10 per cent to wood­land.

This will re­sult in around 40 new hectares of tall grass and 20 new hectares of wood­land across the district.

North Som­er­set Coun­cil ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber for en­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil­lor Brid­get Petty said: “I’m de­lighted the res­i­dents and coun­cil can work to­gether to es­tab­lish com­pro­mise.

“In this cir­cum­stance the com­mu­nity asked that this small open space re­main without be­ing part of the coun­cil-wide rewil­d­ing scheme.

“It was good to visit the site, see the views and memo­rial benches.

“The coun­cil is will­ing to lis­ten but also re­mains ded­i­cated to ac­tion on cli­mate change and pre­par­ing our com­mu­ni­ties and land­scape for the changes we will see. Rewil­d­ing is a strat­egy to also in­crease bio­di­ver­sity which I know means a lot to the res­i­dents of North Som­er­set.”

The site in Cleve­don – a pe­ti­tion said plant­ing trees would spoil the sea view

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