Council pledge over forest fears

Orica campaigners Roy Bridge, left, and Peter Lusher
Orica campaigners Roy Bridge, left, and Peter Lusher

DEVELOPMENT chiefs today denied there has been “wanton” tree felling at a controversial Wigan housing site.

A neighbouring parish councillor is increasingly concerned about the number of specimens that have been axed on the north and east side of Gathurst’s former century old and once secretive Orica works site which finally closed completely early last year.

Roy Bridge said that walkers using the Vicarage Lane boundary of the former quarrying and mining explosives complex, where blast distance boundaries between buildings had allowed a heavily wooded natural resource to develop, were now complaining bitterly to him about the on-going de-forestation.

He accused planners of failing to monitor the operation to make sure that only those trees cited in the planning permission as suitable for removal were in fact now being “logged.”

And he said the council was being “devious and underhanded” in its dealings over the former Nobel’s complex.

Mr Bridge has vowed to continue closely monitoring the felling operation on behalf of the community.

Contractors BAE Systems, which is carrying out decontamination of the sprawling site which runs down towards Crooke, insisted that only approved trees have been removed as per the planning permission.

Coun Bridge alleged: “When you travel down Vicarage Lane alongside Orica you now find that every tree, regardless of species, has been cut down on the east and north boundaries, including all the oak trees.

“The fence between the development footprint in Vicarage Lane and the woodland that is not part of the development is still absent and I am suspicious that the road into the woodland is being used by the contractors.

“I am concerned that every tree requested by the developer has been removed, irrespective of any Tree Protection Order.”

“The total silence and lack of information that has cloaked this site from it’s inception is nothing short of amazing.”

“No wonder the developers are coughing up a few bob for some pansies in the communal flower beds- that is a cheap price to pay.”

But council Development Manager Graham Dickman insisted that only trees on the north and east of the controversial site approved for removal had now been axed and “no Protected” trees.

He said: “Most of the trees were poplar and Leyland cypress and therefore it was felt more appropriate to replace with better quality landscape trees.

“There were some oaks removed but these were categorised as trees of low quality or young trees, which under current British Standards recommends they be removed and replaced.”