COMMENTS made about the trees at the Poachers Pocket site in Ballasalla by developer Graham Taylor are ‘crass and do not reflect the facts’, claim the Ballasalla and District Residents’ Association (BADRA).
Mr Taylor was speaking on Manx Radio’s Sunday Opinion on March 25 and said that when he had first been developing the site (then under Ravenhill Resources), that ‘most of the trees on the site would have come down’ because they were reaching maturity anyway.
Now BADRA chairman Mike Henthorne has responded. ‘When people are trying to justify what is an environmental disaster in Ballasalla we have to react,’ he said, adding that authorities such as Manx Wildlife Trust and senior foresters all warned of the danger to trees of the work being carried out.
BADRA had pointed out that the area was covered in natural wild woodland, Mr Henthorne said.
When clearing the site, the developer used a JCB, which he said cleared ‘everything it could knock over, which included many young trees’.
BADRA said that a licence must be granted to knock down trees greater than 8cm at a point of 152cm above ground level and claimed no such licence was sought or granted.
BADRA added that the developer polled most of the mature trees, making them appear smaller and less intrusive.
At the planning inquiry, the independent planning inspector accepted the developer’s and forestry’s opinion that only three trees had to be lost. BADRA said: ‘Ten magnificent spruce trees were felled on alleged grounds of safety. In excess of 40 mixed mature trees were to be felled because of concern that the planned flood protection “berm” would endanger them. This concern was not raised when they proposed the “berm” as an answer to a range of dangers, including flood risk.
‘Without any public consultation, the whole building site was then moved further away from the river to supposed higher ground and, as a result, the “berm” was never actually constructed.
‘This change in site position required significant soil movement and caused the eventual felling of many more mature trees.’
BADRA added: ‘In view of these established facts and the loss of over 80 mature trees, together with at least 100 followers, BADRA was astounded to hear of Graham Taylor’s comments. Clearly, he needs to have a reality check, and the authorities, the media and the general public should give short shrift to such erroneous and irresponsible statements which fly in the face of the facts.’
It is too late for the Poachers Pocket site, said Mr Henthorne, but he wants it to serve as a warning to others in the future: ‘Nothing will correct the situation, but where someone tries to justify what they have done and are flying in the face of facts, we have to respond. You cannot put the trees back. It’s an embarrassment to the planners. We do not want to see another situation like that developing.’