Monday, 16 December 2019

Footpath trees ‘butchered’ by water company

MORE than a dozen young trees planted along a public footpath in Goring could die or topple after being “butchered”, a resident claims.

Rob Jones says the 20 oaks and ashes which line the path off Manor Road were badly pruned by contractors working for Thames Water. The path provides access to the company’s borehole at Gatehampton.

The trees were planted as saplings by the village amenity association 20 years ago.

Mr Jones, who has lived near the path for more than 30 years, noticed last week that most of the branches which used to overhang it had apparently been hacked off with a chainsaw.

Thames Water staff told him this was done so that a 40-tonne articulated lorry could deliver a generator during a power cut.

Mr Jones, a garden designer, says the trees are now unbalanced due to the weight of the remaining branches and could fall away from the road in a storm.

He says the branches should have been cut much closer to the trunk as this has special tissues which help the wounds to heal.

As it is, the stubs are several inches long and could attract fungus which could kill the entire tree.

Mr Jones says the trees aren’t beyond saving but Thames Water must send out a qualified surgeon to make good the work before it is too late.

The company has assured him it will investigate and respond by next week.

Mr Jones said: “I don’t believe the work was done by an approved contractor because no reputable tree surgeon would have approached it in that way.

“It’s not like it takes any more time to do it correctly but this is pretty shambolic. It looks like someone had a chainsaw lying about and decided to just get on with it.

“Thames Water has an environmental policy on its website but that doesn’t seem to be backed up by what’s happening on the ground. They’re happy to do this in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

“It’s heartbreaking because I remember those trees being planted and they’ve thrived despite a growing national threat from diseases and pests.”

“The way the trees have been treated will cause serious damage if something isn’t done.

“There are steps that can be taken but an arboriculturalist must survey the damage first.

“The company was quick to respond but seemed very keen to justify the work, which is hardly the point.

“The local farmers arrive once a year with combine harvesters to lift crops in the adjacent fields without needing to attack the trees. ”

Thames Water said it had to carry out the work urgently and without specialist advice in order to prevent an interruption to residents’ water supply but it would revisit the site to see if improvements could be made.

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