Campaigners lose fight to save city trees

Kevin Doyle campaigned to save trees in the grounds of St James's Hospital in Milton - but they will be felled
Kevin Doyle campaigned to save trees in the grounds of St James's Hospital in Milton - but they will be felled
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes with members of Solent Waspi at her Senior Citizens Fair, in Fareham.

Solent Waspi campaigners attend Fareham fair

  • Approval is given to fell four trees on the grounds of St James’s in Milton
  • Trees were decalred dangerous, but critics say the decision was made without independent advice
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CAMPAIGNERS have lost their battle to save four historic trees in the grounds of a hospital.

Despite more than 64 objections, Portsmouth City Council approved an NHS application to chop down the trees at St James’ Hospital in Milton.

It was conkers in the autumn and suddenly we find that it’s up for felling

Kevin Doyle

The trees were considered a safety risk and the council’s arborologist recommended the council’s planning committee agree to the NHS’s application.

But others felt that not enough had been done to rescue them, and the council’s decision was made with a lack of expert advice.

The NHS previously said it was given independent professional advice about the trees.

Councillor Ken Ellcome and Tory and Ukip members of the planning committee voted for the application, while the Lib Dems abstained from the vote.

Cllr Ellcome said it was right to follow the arborologist’s advice. He said: ‘Because of that advice I voted in that way.

‘If one of those trees came down and killed somebody – I wouldn’t want to have that on my conscience.’

Cllr Ellcome said concerns felling could pave the way for development were ‘nonsense’.

But Cllr Ben Dowling, who spoke at the meeting against the application, was unconvinced.

Cllr Dowling said: ‘We understand that some of the trees need work.

‘But the horse chestnut in particular is a real asset to the environment and we don’t want it to lead to back-door development.’

The horse chestnut was vandalised in December with red paint and ‘God bless this tree’ in white.

A condition of the approval was that the trees be replaced.

Keep Milton Green member Kevin Doyle said: ‘These trees provide food and shelter for wildlife, and they drink gallons of water, so they’re important for dealing with flooding.’

An NHS Property Services spokesman said it was unrelated to any other development.

‘We responded to local concerns about the risks posed to people and property,’ he said.