Countryside campaigners have expressed “profound shock and dismay” at the deliberate destruction of mature oak trees at a Green Belt site in Oxted, Surrey. The 10 trees at the site off Chichele Road were ‘girdled’ (the bark cut through with a chainsaw so that the tree dies). Tandridge Council is investigating a potential offence regarding Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) on some of those trees. This “environmental vandalism” has taken place on Green Belt land before any planning application has been submitted by the developers and before an Environmental Impact Assessment, requested by Tandridge Council, could be carried out.
Countryside campaigners at CPRE Surrey have welcomed the decision by the Government not to proceed with sales of Forestry Commission land. The Government’s climbdown was signalled recently by the Prime Minister’s comment in the House of Commons that he was not happy with the proposal, and then the subsequent statement by the Farming and Rural Affairs Minister that the sell-off scheme had been a mistake and would be withdrawn. CPRE Surrey branch director Andy Smith said: “The Government’s decision is a massive relief to everyone. This was a fight that none of us wanted and I’m so pleased the Prime Minister saw sense in the end and realised what a catastrophic error the proposal had been.”
Local countryside campaigners are calling on the Government to “think again” on its proposed sale of Forestry Commission land. CPRE Surrey says that the planned sell-off is “ill-conceived” and that it could rob the county of several of its most precious countryside assets. At risk are many areas of woodland in Surrey and throughout England that are vital for public recreation and for nature conservation and biodiversity.