Many local people will know and have used the Wyevale Garden Centre on the A4 Bath Road between the Hicks Gate roundabout and the Brislington Park and Ride.
Well, sadly like so much of our retail sector the Garden centre has now closed and the site has been sold to a property development company and what a sorry mess they have made of it. They have slashed and burned a whole swathe of trees that have been on the site for hundreds of years. The irony of this destruction of a place that used to nurture trees and plants is not lost on me. The fact that there is currently no planning application for the site makes this destruction seem either pointless or very cynical.
I contacted the Council as soon as I was informed of this environmental vandalism and they told me that they rely on a partnership approach with other agencies such as the Forestry Commission and the Planning Department. Sadly, the Wyevale site and the adjacent fields are not within a conservation area and the trees prior to the felling were not covered by a tree preservation order so the Council do not have any powers to pursue the owners for the actions they have taken thus far.
But following the initial felling works BCC have placed an emergency tree preservation order on the Wyevale site and all of the fields to Scot Lane and the Bristol park and ride.
The Forestry Commission’s local team has been on site to assess the work relating to the need for a feeling licence due to the material removed exceeding their permitted limit. They are recommending that the National Regulations Manager enforces a re-stocking notice on the land; this would require the owner to replant new trees on the field to the south-west of the garden centre. But the Forestry Commission are not pursuing a prosecution due to the limited penalties that can be applied if the owner is convicted of an offence under the relevant act.
When an owner or tenant is convicted of an illegal felling the Forestry Commission can serve a restocking notice to replant the land concerned, or any other land as may be agreed, Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to £5,000. They have also recommended that the piles of dead trees are dismantled and the plastic separated and recycled and the vegetation waste be chipped and composted. Pollution Control from the Council have the power to issue a ‘Pre-Emptive Notice’ to require proper disposal of the plastic waste on the site. But really what this case shows is with large sums of money to made from property development these fines are just peanuts. With our children demanding a better future for our planet it is this type of wanton desecration by those who just don’t care that is deeply depressing. We need stronger regulations and fines to deter those who care little for our environment and a lot for making money out of destroying it.