Hailsham: Wood coppicing part of community payback scheme

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A PUBLIC footpath in Hellingly has been tidied up by a group of convicted offenders working in the community.

They put in a good shift at Park Wood, coppicing an area of Sweet Chestnut and marking out a public right of way.

The Community Payback scheme, organised by Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust and the Environment Agency, is an initiative which helps with environmental projects and provides offenders with valuable skills and work experience to prevent re-offending.

James Humphrys, Environment Agency Area Manager, said, “The Community Payback project brings benefits to the local environment, including increasing the variety of plants and wildlife in the woods.

“The community will get further value as some timber collected will be used to maintain the high standard of flood defences on the nearby River Ouse.”

Additional work will include keeping footpaths clear, digging holes and putting up posts to improve community access to the ancient, semi-natural woodland.

Rosie Martin, Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust Community Payback Manager, said, “Community Payback is hard work, carried out by offenders in the community.

“We are very pleased to be working with the Environment Agency to improve access and enjoyment of Park Wood.

“All those on projects will be closely supervised at all times and because they wear orange high-visibility jackets people can see how they are paying back the community.”

All offenders participating in the project will be brought in from a different part of Sussex and supervised by Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust throughout the work. The project runs until March 2012.