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Saturday, 23 June 2012

National Trust fatuity

In case anybody thought I was exaggerating  in  a thread on Afoot in the Hills -"That's fine say the RSPB and SNH" - 22nd June -  , here is a copy of a letter I sent to the local paper after receiving the reply from the National Trust about local tree felling.

14th March 2009
Letters and Opinions
The Westmorland Gazette
1 Wainwright’s Yard
Westmorland LA9 4DP
Dear Sir
As a resident of Arnside I recently sent an email to the National Trust enquiring about the reasons for tree felling on the approach road to Arnside Knott car park and received the following reply.
Dear Mr Robinson

Thank you for your email of last Friday, which has been passed on to me, as I am the Property Manager responsible for Arnside Knott.

I am sorry you do not like the result of the clearance work up the road. The aesthetics are a matter of taste, I think, as other people have said to us they think it is a great improvement.

However, the clearance work was not done for aesthetic reasons, but to ensure that Fire and Rescue could get access up to the car park on the Knott. I hope it is unlikely that we ever have a serious problem there, but if we do they will need to get there as easily as possible. The Fire and Rescue team and the wardens did do a recce before the tree felling was commissioned, to check how much clearance there was above the fire engine, with the wardens on top of the fire engine. The conclusion they all came to was that there was not enough clearance, to get up easily or without doing expensive damage to the fire engine. Even a flashing light would cost about £2000 to replace, I am told, so Fire and Rescue are understandably reluctant to risk losing them. Given that the trees needed to be cleared, it made sense to cut them back down to ground level rather than 'pollarding' them higher up, which would have looked strange, is more difficult and would have meant re-cutting them again sooner.

I should perhaps warn you, while writing this, that the warden-in-charge is planning to do a similar exercise with the next section of the track, above the cattle grid. 

The trees will grow again, of course, though historically there have not been trees on either side of the track for all that long. In previous times, the track was open on both sides, with no fences so, as the whole area was grazed, there were no trees to speak of.

Another practical, though incidental, advantage of clearing the trees down to ground level,at least for a while, is that it will enable the tenant to repair the fences. They are in badly in need of repair and renewal in places, and cattle keep getting out on to the road, which is an inconvenience all round.

I hope this answers your query and will persuade you that there was indeed a good reason for the felling work. 

Yours sincerely

Rowena Lord
Morecambe Bay Properties Manager
The National Trust Property Office
Bank House Farm
I read this with some incredulity. All the people I have spoken to are dismayed at the wilful destruction of natural and scenic habitat.
I find it difficult to believe that if a fire engine could pass through the cattle grid, which is narrower than the road, that it could not pass along the road, where perhaps there may be some need for only marginal trimming of the trees.
I have never heard of anybody travelling on top of a fire engine – this is absurd, and, I would have thought quite dangerous.
This all seems to be the start of a wildly misconceived plan to provide access for fire engines in ever more obscure locations - why not build a nice concrete road right up to the top of Arnside Knott?
As for repairing fences I am sure the value of saving the trees would have been outweighed by the slight inconvenience in the repair of fences.
What are The National Trust up to? I am sure the expenditure could have been put to more logical and beneficial use. 
In these times of supposed environmental awareness I believe we should be thinking positively about ways for not having to chop down trees, rather than conjuring up peculiar and very debatable reasons for destroying them.
Conrad Robinson


Lorenzo da Ponte said...

There is no reason why Arnside should not ape south-east England (notably Tunbridge Wells) and spawn a Disgusted. But be very careful you do not overstep the boundaries. What Arnside does not need is a papier-maché version of Richard Littlejohn.

Sir Hugh said...

L da P - I hope you noticed that the correspondence was dated 2009.

Since that date I would like to think I have been much more self critical about what I write, and looking back at that effort I would have handled it differently today. The letter was not published. I suspect partly because it was too long with the inclusion of NT’s response, and maybe for political reasons. The content was so relevant to the thread running on the blog where I commented I couldn’t resist showing this correspondence off.

Having looked up in more detail than I already knew, the activities of Littlejohn, I would be mortified to be associated with him, even though I suppose he is technically a gifted journalist, and I will head your warning.