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South West Wiltshire Liberal Democrats

Massacre on the Mead

January 22, 2016 1:40 PM

Residents of Paxcroft Mead have been complaining about the destruction of trees and vegetation on the estate by Wiltshire Council contractors.

WC has responded to concerns by saying:

"The vegetation that has been removed is part of a larger scheme of works that is being undertaken across the Paxcroft Mead estate to reduce the likelihood of vegetation-related indirect damage (subsidence) occurring.

The scheme of works has been developed in conjunction with the council's insurance team who have paid for the tree works. 14 confirmed cases of subsidence have resulted in claims to the council.

The Paxcroft Mead estate is built on clay soil which is prone to volumetric change. Where council owned vegetation is next to houses and gardens there is a high risk of subsidence occurring due to soil moisture uptake by the vegetation, causing the underlying clay to shrink. In many of the subsidence claims the council have dealt with on the estate it has been found that while the foundations are sufficient to support the properties they have not been constructed to a sufficient depth to have vegetation planted so close. The council, as the owners of the vegetation, have been liable for the damage caused.

Wiltshire Council is undertaking management of the woody vegetation within its control. The most cost effective approach is the removal of trees and shrubs that are adjacent to fences and properties, the removal of high water usage trees and the removal of other species of tree or shrub that are inappropriate for their location. In a number of cases vegetation will be reduced to 1.5m with the intention that once re-grown it should be managed as a hedgerow.

There is no 'one size fits all' solution for the entire estate, so the specifications are tailored to each block, to take account of the different species of tree and shrub, distances from properties, the locations of vegetation and their intended purpose e.g. visual screen, noise reduction and amenity planting etc.

The works started in November 2015 were scheduled to last approximately 3 months. Signs were placed around the estate to inform residents of the works."

Hilperton Parish Council has complained to WC about the way the works have been done, with the destruction apparently going well beyond what would be needed to satisfy subsidence problems, and with damage to cycle tracks etc around the estate.