Concerns Over Ruddington Tree Felling

Anger has been expressed over the timing of the removal of mature trees at Ruddington’s former Youth & Community Centre site next to The Green.

After three, large Leylandii were chopped down there on Monday, villager Margaret Burrell contacted to say: “I’m absolutely disgusted that the Parish Council have chosen the breeding season for birds as the time to chop down all the trees on the old Youth Centre site. This site has lain empty for years and, despite being promised a temporary parking facility after the buildings were demolished, nothing has happened until now. There are also likely to be nesting hedgehogs on that site, and possibly also foxes, but hey, who cares about wildlife?!”

Addressing her concerns, a spokesperson for Ruddington Parish Council (RPC) – which now owns the site – responded: “I am sorry you are unhappy with us. Council agreed that the three Leylandii were to be removed at the earliest opportunity if it was legal to do so. We have worked with this contractor previously and have checked their credentials thoroughly. One of our Councillors observed them this morning (unknown to them) and witnessed them climb the full height of the tree prior to felling it so we are sure that they are checking for nesting birds. It also forms part of their site risk assessment.”

RPC’s statement adds: “We are not removing the rest of the trees on site. We do use the site for parking on market days and are hoping to progress long term plans for parking. We may be cutting the grass soon as well. The site will be walked prior to the trimming taking place, and any bushes pruned back will first be checked for nests. Councillors are keen for the area to look better than it currently does and we are getting lots of complaints about the site from visitors and residents.”

However, Margaret is not completely convinced by RPC’s reassurances: “Due to the method of felling, they would have had to climb all 3 trees prior to felling” she says. “They apparently attach ropes to the top of the tree to help guide it to the ground as well, as part of their health and safety. So, did the witness actually see the climber check for nests – as RPC lead us to believe – or merely climb the tree to attach the rope?”

One of Ruddington’s Hedgehog Highways

Jennifer Manning-Ohren from Wild Things Keyworth – who’ve installed ‘Hedgehog Highways’ in Ruddington – agrees with Margaret, and says that RPC’s action was “Irresponsible! What do you expect households to do if they see councils allowing this kind of felling in bird nesting season? What you also deny in these actions is the ‘potential’ for nesting sites. Three fewer places gone in an instant when habitat is precious. What became of the logs? Have they created wildlife friendly log piles, or done some dead hedging so at least some of the goodness is retained?”

She adds: “Complaints of messy? How about getting the messaging out that you’re helping wildlife by having wilder areas, it’s not messy, it’s supportive and for households to have a go, too, to help. Perhaps more education is needed, starting with the council. Each of these losses was a little ecosystem.”

Although not involved in this particular work, tree surgeon Kane Johnson has spoken out in defence of RPC. “I’m unsure as to why these trees were felled but I promise you we climbers look for nests and are very cautious” he says. “We are aware it is illegal to destroy the natural habits of any nesting birds in the UK. The climber will have checked. If we ever find birds nesting or nests with eggs in we always stop and come back to the job.”

Cllr Gaunt

Ruddington Parish and Rushcliffe Borough Councillor, Mike Gaunt, explains: “They were removed because of the impact they were having on the retaining wall as the roots were undermining the foundations and the branches were pressing heavily into the wall itself. Also the blocking of sunlight into the green was causing damage to the grass as the shadow of the trees was blocking the sun and reducing the recovery of the grass. This is one of the reasons that the grass in that section has been roped off to help it recover better without as much sunlight. Unfortunately, sometimes it is necessary to remove problem trees, sadly.”

It’s now almost three years since bold plans for a brand new Ruddington Community Centre on the site were revealed. These received a generally positive response from villagers during RPC’s public consultation.

The proposed new Ruddington Community Centre design which was revealed in August 2021

However, the considerable cost of constructing it has meant there’s been little further progress so far.  Moreover, there are still some who believe the whole site should be given over to much needed, additional, village centre parking, rather than constructing a new building there.

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