Shropshire Wildlife Trust will today issue a press statement on the controversial plans to fell two semi-mature oak trees on Whitcliffe Common to improve views for visitors. Their position is that one tree should be felled and the other preserved. The tree that will be lost stands to the left as you look from the top of the common by the toposcope and parking area.
It was inevitable that this saga would end in a compromise. I am not happy that a tree is to be felled but I respect the way Shropshire Wildlife Trust has worked to find a solution to an issue that has divided Ludlow.
We need to learn lessons from this affair. In future, there should be public consultation on schemes that might be contentious. Applications should set out all the issues.
The Friends of Whitcliffe Common have said that tree felling is needed to improve views for disabled people. If this had been part of the original case for cutting down the two oaks, it might have been easier to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, the issue was only raised late in the process. There is no mention of disabled access in the application documents or the report by Shropshire Council’s tree officer (16/03003/TCA).
The disagreement has brought into focus the need to do more for disabled people who drive to Whitcliffe Common. I have asked Shropshire Wildlife Trust to come up with a scheme for a disabled parking bay at the best viewpoint.
The Common would benefit from an access plan as well as up to date management plan.
Having learnt the lessons from this row, it is time to move on. We have argued too much rather than worked in partnership to resolve difficult matters.