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Daft reasons to fell trees

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

The Ranger gets to hear some pretty feeble reasons for felling trees in his job – usually along the lines of ‘it spoils my sea view‘. Just ocassionally a more creative one slips through the net, but recently, Copeland Borough Council in Cumbria had a corker from the lips of Cllr Mr Gilbert Scurrah (pictured), the Conservative member for Millom Without.

Cllr Mr Gilbert Scurrah

Mr Scurrah produced this remarkable argument during a planning meeting when Copeland Borough Council approved plans for eight new sheltered homes to be built, at the cost of 16 mature trees used by nesting birds. He said:

“With avian flu, we should be having them out.”

This is exactly the kind of over-reaction that could really mean that bird flu causes serious problems even if it never arrives here. It might be expected that people in Cumbria – seriously affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis, but equally seriously affected by the catastrophic decline in tourism that year – would be the first to realise that irrational scare stories are almost as serious a threat to the rural landscape as is the deadly virus itself. Felling trees to avoid bird flu is just silly. No, worse – it’s dangerous and wrong, because it sends out a flawed message, and one which could have serious consequences. Perhaps Cllr Mr Scurrah meant his comments in jest. The Ranger has sat through one or two planning meetings in his time and he knows that an injection of levity is rarely unwelcome. But there are jokes, and there is foolishness.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

3 thoughts on “Daft reasons to fell trees

  • Castor Oil

    It is most likely a joke, else is he looking at not having any nesting birds anywhere at all in the country?

    Vic, Plant Oils A-Z

  • The Virtual Ranger

    Good point, Chris, although it’s not actually the council making the proposal, they are determining an application by a private developer.

    When the development proceeds the developer will indeed, as you suggest, have to avoid disturbing active nests or risk breaching the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

  • Chris Court

    would the council have to wait until the birds finished nesting before cutting them down?


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