Fringe Box



Letter: We Need a More Pro-active Approach to Save Our Trees

Published on: 15 May, 2023
Updated on: 15 May, 2023

Guildford Golf Club Beeches

From: David Roberts

In response to: Council Rushes Through Preservation Order to Save Guildford Golf Club Trees

I’m greatly impressed by the swift action of the two councillors but amazed and sceptical that the formalities really have been completed so quickly. It took me 18 months to secure an uncontentious tree preservation order (TPO) for a mile of trees along Ockham Road North (the B2039).

One issue I encountered was that GBC’s guidance on the matter is designed for people asking for a TPO to be removed or altered, rather than for one to be applied in the first place (see This is a good illustration of the ingrained anti-nature/pro-development bias of our local planners and planning system.

A TPO does not offer absolute protection but simply creates an extra bureaucratic obstacle for anyone who wants to harm the protected trees, or a small fine if they ignore this. Nevertheless, TPOs should be used much more often.

I’ve heard that some councils (eg Woking) positively go looking for trees to protect. Guildford’s lone TPO officer, by contrast, seems completely overworked just reacting to the odd new application.

Most residents are unaware that you don’t have to own a tree or woodland to seek a TPO on them, provided they have some public value. I get the feeling GBC would rather we didn’t know this. As the GBC website shows, it is not made easy to find out what the rules are, or how to frame an application.

Another issue raised by this case is why the threat to a handful of trees in town has created a far bigger fuss than the horrendous recent destruction of tens of thousands of mature trees by National Highways around the A3/M25 Junction 10. Neither GBC nor SCC seem to have commented on this, perhaps the biggest act of ecological vandalism on their own territory for generations.

Is this another example of double standards: one rule for the town and another for the rural parts of the borough? It is similar to the major public fuss kicked up over the 450 new homes proposed for North Street compared with the relative silence over the 2,000 planned for the Former Wisley Airfield.

A final issue is the toxic influence of golf clubs in general. Surrey has far too many of these exclusive playgrounds for the affluent – the most of any county in the country. Their sterile, weed-killed fairways occupy huge areas where nature used to thrive, many having replaced ancient woodland and good farmland.

As businesses, some sweat these assets by needlessly re-landscaping, importing vast amounts of excavated spoil for money and leveraging the proceeds on silly luxury facilities of no public benefit.

These are frivolous enterprises, as shown by Guildford Golf Club’s excuses for wanting their trees felled. No insurance? Get a better policy. Bird droppings? Hire a hawker. Health and safety? Get the trees professionally pruned.

That only three out of eight hundred golfers objected to the trees’ removal suggests only that they would do better to get some proper exercise by rewilding the whole place.

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Responses to Letter: We Need a More Pro-active Approach to Save Our Trees

  1. William Lawrence Reply

    May 15, 2023 at 11:41 am

    I agree. I find it strange that they will not place TPOs on council-owned trees. The mass felling at Sheepleas also seems to have gone unnoticed.

    Some planning almost seems to be done in secret, like the planned widening of the road at Stringers Common, which will also necessitate the felling of an unknown number of trees.

    All very worrying.

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