Tree felling sparks anger in Hellingly

Wealden District Council has sparked the anger of a Hellingly resident after felling a cherry tree in an historic churchyard.

Thursday, 12th January 2017, 1:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th January 2017, 1:22 pm

Roger Paine, of Church Path, said council contractors had felled the tree in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul Church in Hellingly on Monday (January 9).

Commander Paine, who lives opposite the churchyard, condemned what he described as the “wanton destruction” of the cherry tree.

He said: “For over half a century this tree has been a cherished landmark in Hellingly’s historic, and unique, Saxon churchyard.

“For decades, countless local residents, parishioners, visitors and happy bridal couples have admired, and sat beneath, this glorious tree. In full bloom it was stunning – a quintessential part of a country churchyard in rural England.

“Those responsible for the wanton destruction of this thriving tree, a living testament to Nature’s, and God’s, beauty next to a place where He is worshipped should, in my opinion, have their own limbs similarly removed.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The tree was a danger to people using the churchyard and needed to be removed.

“We think Commander Paine’s final comment is in very poor taste.”

The church’s vicar Rev David Farey also raised concerns about the tree felling, reporting that the church had not been informed before the work took place.

Mr Farey said: “I share Mr Paine’s concerns and I’m not particularly happy with the situation. There should have been more consultation from the council before they cut down trees in the churchyard.”

Cdr Paine, a former member of the Royal Navy, says he has clashed with Wealden District Council about tree felling at the churchyard on several previous occasions, including the felling of a 35m tall Scots Pine in February 2015.

At the time the council said the tree, which Cdr Paine said was one of the “most handsome” on the site, had become infected.

Speaking at the time a council spokesman said: “We would not have taken such action if the tree had not posed a serious safety risk. We explained the situation to Cdr Paine at the time. We have received no complaints from other local residents.”

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