The MRT will have a devastating impact on biodiversity and tree life. At a minimum 766 trees will be felled. Onsite only 77 trees will be replaced. That is only 10% of the overall total that will be felled, and the new trees will take a generation to achieve comparable growth. This in no way meets Reading’s objectives to improve biodiversity as a result of the construction. This is why Dr Sam Cartwright of Berkshire, Buckhamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) strongly objects to the scheme. She says:
“Put simply, the scheme as currently proposed will be highly damaging to Reading’s local natural environment.”
Dr Sam Cartwright, Berkshire, Buckhamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
The trees to be felled include many healthy mature trees and many younger trees with 40+ years of remaining life. The MRT application obscures the number of trees to be felled by referring to ‘tree features’ (trees and tree groups) and by failing to identify the number of trees that will be felled in groups that are marked for partial felling.
List of trees identified to be felled for the East Reading MRT
The application includes a Tree Survey of every tree with a stem diameter of 70 mm measured at 1.5m high, see appendix A of the Aboricultural Impact Statement. For over a year Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport, Tony Page, misinformed the public insisting that only 86 trees would be felled. SOAR campaigners reviewed the Tree Survey and quickly identified that over 700 trees would be felled. We immediately informed RBC’s Planning Officer, Richard Eatough, and the entire planning committee, but it wasn’t until the planning committee meeting on the 30 May 2018 that the applicant’s tree expert was forced to confirm the number. Sadly it was too late, and despite Green Councillor Josh William’s impassioned speech, the application was approved. Thankfully, armed with the facts Wokingham Councillors saw sense and rejected the scheme on 25 June 2018 (Cllr Tony Page finally admitted that at least 750 trees will be felled at at the RBC full Council meeting on 26 June 2018).
The fight to Save the Trees is not over. Cllr Tony Page has decided to spend more of our public money on revising the planning application for the MRT. Now that we have forced RBC and the applicant to admit the minimum number of trees to be felled, they will focus on trying to claim the trees are of low quality or immature. SOAR are determined not to let them hide the true devastation that their scheme will cause.