In January of this year, Nottinghamshire residents complained at the felling of 2,200 silver birch trees at Toton Sidings, a former British Rail site which is now privately owned.
The resident`s campaign attracted cross-party support, notably from Nick Palmer (Lab) , at that time the MP for the area, and Anna Soubry (Conservative), who is the current MP. Both Mr Palmer and Ms Soubry continue to be involved in the issue. Both are also involved in the Friends of Bramwell campaign, which I mentioned not so long ago.
The Forestry Commission investigated and concluded that the trees had been felled illegally. They issued the landowners with a notice requiring them to restock the area with trees and maintain the restocked area for ten years.
The owners had three months during which they could appeal, but finally did so only days before the deadline expired. They argue that the land is contaminated and question whether consideration was given to the apparently poor quality of the trees that were felled.
Popular opinion in the area has not been sympathetic to the landowners, a couple from the south who are believed to want to build on the site. Ms Soubry believes that the `contamination` referred to was asbestos which she says was removed by contractors acting for the landowner at the time the land was cleared.
From the outset, environmental bodies and community groups have aimed to see the area restocked with trees and declared a nature reserve. Early attempts by Nick Palmer to broker a compromise were rejected by them, though to his credit he has respected their wishes and continues to support their efforts.
The appeal is opposed by representatives of all three major political parties, by the Woodland Trust and by two locally-based groups, Toton Environmental Protection Society and Long Eaton Natural History Society.
The deadline for public responses on the appeal is 17 December 2010. A number of articles have appeared in the local press, some of which provide guidance for those wishing to submit their comments ;
8 December 2010 - Unsigned - Deadline Looms for Resident`s Toton Trees
18 October 2010 - Bryan Henesey - Felled Toton Woods Replanting Faces Delay After Landowner`s Appeal
17 March 2010 - Bryan Henesey - Landowners Told to Replant Felled Toton Woodland
15 February 2010 - Bryan Henesy - MP Palmer Backs Toton Woodland Action Call
these can all be found at http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/ .
My general attitude to politicians when compiling this blog is that I don`t mind giving credit where it`s due but I have the traditional British distrust for them so normally draw the line at providing links to their websites. In this particular instance, with the deadline approaching, I`ll break my own rule enough to point out that Anna Soubry MP has placed advice on her site for anyone wishing to oppose the landowner`s appeal.
The Woodland Trust are at http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ - their thoughts on the Toton Sidings issue can be found on the Our Campaigns and Woodwatch sections of their site.
Toton Environmental Protection Society and Long Eaton Natural History Society can be contacted via a group called Friends of Toton Fields. Useful links being www.freewebs.com/friendsoftotonfields and http://friendsoftotonfields.webs.com/locallinks.htm
On a lighter note, anyone interested in the history of Toton Sidings (don`t laugh, it`s good) might like to visit http://18atoton.blogspot.com/ . Unfortunately, the site hasn`t been updated for a while, but the two men who run it explain this with a recently-added "Where Are They Now" spot ; "Billy has spent two of the last three months in Spain. Paul has been fishing, gambling and boozing" ! Also good is http://www.toton-rail.co.uk/ .