Sunday, 8 February 2009

Council Officers caught out aiding and abetting unlawful tree felling

This lib dem council cannot claim any green credentials!

Lib Dems boast "All our policies have a green thread running through them. We believe achieving sustainability cannot be done by one government department alone. Damage to our environment damages personal health, impoverishes economies and weakens communities."

Council Officers caught out aiding and abetting unlawful tree felling

next to the College of Music & Drama

While the Council granted the college permission for a concert hall development just pre-Xmas, there are many pre-conditions to be satisfied that include site investigations be for the development can start. There are also legal processes to cover leasing out the land which was approved by the Council Executive on 15 January.

But the officers swung into action, first permitting the College’s contracters to enter Bute Park and fell trees on the intended site. Second, they gave S.211 approval to cutting down trees in the Conservation Area (29 January letter, below). The Conservation Area status protects all trees in the Park and on College land.

The purpose of the special permissions is said (29 January letter) to enable the tree felling before the start of the nesting season (1 March). Then the Planning Department declared that felling the mature trees was not ‘development’ but ‘preparatory to development’[2 Feb e-mail, attached].

However, an objection from Max Wallis of the Save Bute Park campaign forced the Council’s legal officer* to disclose that caselaw had determined

# that prior operations had to be “only preparatory” and

# not operations with “some degree of permanence”.

This clearly excludes the felling of mature trees, whose replacement would take decades. Some new planting to cover the big gap in Bute Park’s trees is a requirement of the development, but they won’t cover this wound for decades.

Max Wallis said: because meeting the 17 pre-conditions will take months, someone decided to bypass the law. It’s obvious to anyone that felling mature trees cannot be reversed if the development never proceeds for reasons of finance or the pre-conditions being too onerous.

The College knew it was being challenged, but still sent their contractors in. claiming they had the necessary permissions*. We insist that the Council takes enforcement action against clearly unlawful tree felling, as a lesson to others and to extract compensatory planting of major trees to replace those lost.

[1] e-mail exchange attached with the case officer and the legal officer Geoff Shimell

[2] A statement by Hilary Boulding, College Principal, on 2 February said:

I can confirm that all conditions that the College was required to fulfil in advance of commencing tree felling have been fulfilled. The College has received the necessary permissions to begin work on both its own land and the adjacent area of Bute Park.

My Ref: SP & E/TL/ /411PN0062v1/TPO/CON Cathays Park

Your Ref:

Date: 29 January 2009


4 Pierhead Street Capital Waterside


CF10 4QP

Dear Sir

Re: Cathays Park Conservation Area

Trees at and Adjacent Welsh College of Music and Drama

I refer to your application Received on 29 January 2009 giving notice of work you intend to do to trees at and around the Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The Planning Authority has no objection to the tree works set out in Planning Permission 08/01575/C and its associated Section 106 agreement.

The reason for the Authority not objecting is that the tree issues have been decided by the planning permission, and starting the tree works (in advance of discharge of all the pre-conditions) will enable the tree works to be completed before there is a likeleyhood of endangering or disturbing nesting birds.

Should you require further information, please contact Tony Lovelock on the number below.

Yours faithfully

James Clemence

Group Leader Natural Environment

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