21st Jan, 2019

Elmdon Park support group express concern about council nature projects

Felix Nobes 17th Feb, 2018

AN ELMDON Park support group has expressed concern about Solihull council’s nature ‘improvement projects’.

Members of the community have been reduced to ‘tears’ as trees were cut down earlier in the week.

In April last year, Solihull council was successful with a funding application to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to undertake a wide range of habitat and nature conservation works across the borough.

The Elmdon Park Support Group has released images of the early regeneration proceedings.

The council says the application will result in improved conservation status for 121 hectares of habitat.

But members of the group claim that they are struggling to believe early work will benefit the habitat after seeing land made barren, trees cut down and the imprints of diggers working in the park.

One group representative claimed that he expected ‘thinning of the area’ and not regeneration of such scale.

He said he saw ‘a JCB digger ploughing through’ the park and also some ‘members of the community in tears.’

Jean Hamilton, a member of the support group, said: “Clearly as a group we are concerned to see a number of residents’ reaction to the work being carried out.

“At the moment the park looks terrible and that has caused a lot of worry.

“Although it has brought a lot of attention and we feel, as a group, really invigorated.”

Some concerns were brought to the council who submitted a response.

Landscape architect, urban designer and member of the regeneration team, Mike Eastwood, responded to worries.

He said: “Tree felling is part of a programme of woodland management that SMBC are undertaking in woodlands across Solihull.

“The work has been informed by management plans which were produced in 2016, which themselves have been informed by habitat surveys and approved by the Forestry Commission last year, with the main aim being to thin 30 per cent of the canopy to allow more light to reach the woodland floor.

“This will allow a more diverse range of plants and a better quality understorey to establish.

“In order to achieve this it will be necessary to fell a number of trees.

“I can understand that the work does look drastic at this stage, however in the long term (and even once we are into the spring and summer) once the ground flora has had a chance to grow, we will see the benefits of the work.”

He also says the improvements will see the return of many woodland birds to the habitat.

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