Trees at risk of being chopped down in Fenland conservation areas including Wisbech, Chatteris and Whittlesey

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Planning permission must be sought to cut down or cut back trees in protected areas

Fenland’s conservation areas could lose as many as 10 trees in coming months after a series of requests to chop them down.

Fenland District Council (FDC) has received applications for tree felling in Chatteris, Wisbech and Whittlesey in the last fortnight.

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The towns contain three of the 10 conservation areas in the district, chosen for their “special architectural or historic interest” whose character or appearance “it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.

FDC have received an application to chop down trees near St Leonard's Church in Leverington, WisbechFDC have received an application to chop down trees near St Leonard's Church in Leverington, Wisbech
FDC have received an application to chop down trees near St Leonard's Church in Leverington, Wisbech

In practice, this means tighter planning controls, including the need to apply for permission to cut down or cut back trees even when they’re privately owned.

The largest of the applications relates to trees near St Leonards Church on Gorefield Road in Leverington, Wisbech.

FDC received a request for the removal of three elder trees, one cherry tree and one laurel tree outside the church’s rectory, as well as the cut back of a cedar tree and two more elders.

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The cherry tree is “ivy covered and mainly dead”, according to the application, while the cedar is reaching phone lines.

There is also ivy and “dying stems” on the elders which require trimming.

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Another application requests the removal of a Leylandi on South Park Street in Chatteris and the cut back of a willow tree.

Another still wants three conifers cut down on Market Street in Whittlesey.

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In this case, this is because – while the conifers are in “generally good condition” – they haven’t been maintained and have “outgrown their location”, the application says.

At Halfpenny House in Wisbech, a more specific reason is given for the request to reduce an 18 metre ash tree by three metres: “due to its height it is now starting to interfere with the neighbours' satellite dish”.

The same application requests the removal of a 15 metre sycamore tree because it’s “hindering re-instatement of the boundary” of the property.

FDC is yet to consider these requests, but has recently granted permission for changes to other trees in their district’s conservation areas.

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This week the council gave the National Trust the go-ahead to cut back the holly at Peckover House in Wisbech.

They also allowed the cut back of four lime trees at Old Convent Fields in Wisbech and a walnut tree on Walnut Tree Walk, Wimblington.

Meanwhile in Peterborough, the city council (PCC) has this week endorsed an Ash Dieback management plan which could see more trees cut down.

The plan involves the council, alongside private waste and environmental company Aragon Direct Services, monitoring trees for the fungal disease and removing them where necessary.

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PCC says it will “work with partners to ensure that new trees and other species are planted to make up for any losses”.

There are around 22,600 PCC-owned ash trees at risk spread throughout the city's streets and open spaces as well as its surrounding woodlands such as those in Bretton.

If action isn’t taken, trees which have died with the disease could “rapidly present a health and safety risk to the public and property”, the council says, which poses the risk of “claims against the Council, litigation costs and bad publicity”.

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