Thursday, 19 April 2012

Freeman's Wood: Tree Appeal Hearing on Monday

Old landfill waste unearthed on the Freeman's Wood site.
Photo: 11 March 2012
The City Council Appeals Committee will hear the appeal against the Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) at Freeman's Wood at 2pm on Monday 23 April at Lancaster Town Hall. The appeal is being brought by the Property Trust Group, who own the land and have a potential proposal before the Council for a residential development there.
Their Appeal letter can be read with the other reports to this committee on the
Lancaster City Council website here.

Virtual Lancaster asked the City Council to confirm if the land was free from asbestos contamination where  recent landfill excavations and tree uprootings have taken place. We also asked who was responsible for clearing up the enormous mess these have made on the land and paths adjacent to the site.  (The City Council has been known to issue on-the-spot fines for littering.) A Lancaster City Council officer told Virtual-Lancaster:

"The council's Environmental Health Service has assessed the situation of wastes unearthed on the land in question.  On inspection the material appears old and in places weathered with no visible evidence of hazardous materials.  The conditions inspected did not appear to present a risk to public health.  No further action is proposed by Environmental Health Officers."

However one local photographer took the above picture of waste on the site on 11 March 2012 as he was walking along the adjacent path. Prior to 1970 corrugated roof-cladding material of this type was typically made using asbestos. Asbestos was also used in construction cement, a great deal of which appears in rubble visible on the site.

Workman chopping down tree on
Property Trust Group site. March 2012
A whole side industry grew up through the 70s and 80s onwards around safely removing materials containing asbestos from  buildings or sealing them with special coverings.  The recommended disposal is undisturbed burial underground. Trees help; they do not have lungs and do not seem to mind a bit of asbestos. They shelter the land from wind and their roots serve to bind and stabilise the site.

In their appeal submission the Property Trust appear to be claiming that the site at Freeman's Woods does not actually contain 'woodland' but merely 'scrub'.  As our many photos of the site taken in March show, a number of mature trees have recently been uprooted and chopped down, and many more remain.

See more images of the appalling mess made at Freeman's Woods and the debris-covered surrounding area, despite Tree Preservation Orders at: "Catastrophic damage to 'protected' Freeman's Wood - photos".

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