Grantham Journal letter: Trees felled over major H&S fears

The Manthorpe site at the end of Longcliffe Road where trees have been cut down.
The Manthorpe site at the end of Longcliffe Road where trees have been cut down.
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I was disappointed to read the column by Nick Boles MP in the Grantham Journal last week (November 21) in which he described as ‘outrageous’ the removal of three trees from a possible development site at Manthorpe by my company, Larkfleet Homes.

His comments appear to be based on a number of inaccuracies or misunderstandings which I would like to put right.

In short, following independent professional arboriculture and ecological advice, the trees to which he refers were removed on health and safety grounds.

We were on site carrying out surveys in preparation for the submission of a planning application when a number of our workers expressed concerns about the state of the trees. We also received correspondence from residents who were concerned about particular trees close to a public right of way where a number of people, including children, walk their dogs.

The issue of safety arising from the condition of trees here was a major concern. There have been a number of recent incidents across the UK of people being killed as a result of falling trees and branches so one has to be very careful in these circumstances.

After consulting an independent arboricultralist we decided to remove just three trees which we were advised were in a bad condition and which posed the greatest health and safety risk to residents and workers.

South Kesteven District Council has confirmed that Larkfleet did not require any form of consent from the council to remove these trees.

I cannot help but contrast the reaction to our decision with that received by the National Trust which recently removed a number of trees at Belton House in Grantham. No criticism was expressed at that time by the people who consider Larkfleet to have acted ‘outrageously’ in similar circumstances.

Larkfleet’s reputation for delivering sustainable developments is widely acknowledged. We hold a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice and just a few weeks ago we won the Chamber of Commerce ‘Sustainability Award’ for the Eastern Region. We are a major employer in the area, a huge supporter of training and education initiatives for local youngsters and a significant contributor to the local economy and community.

I have written to Mr Boles offering to meet him on site at Manthorpe to explain more fully what we are doing and what we would like to do.

I shall also take the opportunity to point out that there are still a number of trees which are potentially unsafe but our future ability to take action is hampered by the council’s decision to place preservation orders on them.

Karl Hick

CEO, Larkfleet Group