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Nervous wait for Pound Hill, Crawley residents as land owner culls woodland next to M23

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Residents in Pound Hill are waiting nervously for a report to be released by the Forestry Commission following a large portion of woodland around Burleys Wood being culled.

The land owner instructed workers over the Christmas period to cut down trees across a large patch of woodland next to the M23.

A popular pathway that runs between the land and land owned by Highways England has seen the tranquil pathway used by residents and dog walkers become opened up to the noise of the motorway.

Residents and councilors rallied round to find out who was responsible and the reasons behind it. It was soon discovered that the land was privately owned and initial reports that it belonged to Crawley Council or Highways England were not true.

One dog walker said:

“I used to allow my dog to run around the forest knowing that the dense nature of it would prevent him from going anywhere near the motorway. Now though what is there to stop him going onto the carriageway?”

Other residents have already complained to both the council and to the Forestry Commission saying that as a result of the trees being removed the noise levels have increased considerably.

Initially there was a lot of confusion over whether the land owner had a license to remove the trees but since an investigation was launched the Forestry Commission and DEFRA has confirmed that no license was provided.

However, they have also made it clear that this does not mean that anything wrong has been undertaken as there are numerous reasons why this could have been done without the need for a license.

It was also pointed out that none of the trees cut down had any protection order on them.

Representatives from the Forestry Commission were seen last week taking measurements and photos of the area in order to provide a report that will be part of an investigation to assess whether any wrong doing had been done.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs clarified that:

“If we find that there is no felling licence or other valid permission is in place, or if the wrong trees are cut down:

  1. All parties involved can be prosecute
  2. The Forestry Commission can, in certain circumstances, serve a Restocking Notice to re-stock the land concerned, or any other land as may be agreed, regardless of whether or not a prosecution takes place
  3. The person served with the notice must maintain the replacement trees to acceptable standards for up to 10 years”

Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/report-suspected-illegal-tree-felling and www.gov.uk/guidance/tree-felling-licence-when-you-need-to-apply

For now though residents will have to wait to find out whether the culling of the trees on this private property will be allowed or whether there will be repurcussions.

Community

New £100k pedestrian crossing for families’ taking children to school installed in West Green

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West Green Primary School Business Manager Annette pictured trying the new crossing with her daughter before the school reopened.

A new pedestrian crossings has been installed in the past few months and is now operational, helping families with the walk to a school in West Green.

The crossing in Crawley cost £100,00 and is aimed to improve safety for families with school-age children – plus pedestrians generally.

With schools reopening and roads becoming busier after lockdown, people are being encouraged to leave their cars at home and consider other travel choices.

Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said:

“The new crossings provide a safer route to schools for families and to other local amenities for pedestrians generally.

“People are being encouraged to consider walking or cycling for their journeys, if they can. It’s a great way to get fit, save fuel money and reduce the number of cars on the road. This in turn will improve air quality and reduce congestion.”

West Green Primary School requested the Puffin crossing for West Green Drive and worked with the county council’s transport improvements team to build the case for road safety improvements.

Other enhancements had already been introduced, including ‘School Keep Clear’ markings, to provide pupils and parents with a safer environment.

Throughout this process, West Green continued to provide pupils with road safety education and encourage sustainable travel.

West Green Primary School Business Manager Annette Tomsett said:

“The school is delighted to have worked closely with West Sussex County Council in bringing to fruition this crossing. It will make a huge difference in the safe route to school for our pupils and families, alongside having a positive impact for the whole community for now and for the future.”

The improvements cost a total of about £100,000.

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