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Destruction of Landmark Trees Raises Fears over Local Respiratory Health

July 26, 2013 8:17 PM

Local Lib Dems Launch "Cherished Trees" Protection Campaign

The felling of landmark trees at the Clive Emson offices in Rocky Hill, Maidstone will worsen air pollution problems in a known congestion hot-spot according to local Lib Dem Councillors. The seven mature common limes had long been a gateway feature on this busy approach to the town centre. They had taken on an increased prominence recently, as they grew opposite the popular new Premier Inn Hotel. The lime trees had long provided shade, shelter, a habitat for wildlife and served a vital pollution-busting role in a notorious traffic congestion hot-spot.

Almost as soon as the chainsaws roared into life local Councillor David Pickett (Lib Dem) contacted Maidstone Council demanding action to stop the felling, but was told that the trees were not protected, and there was nothing the Council could do! This news angered David and other local residents, upset at the loss of yet more trees from our town. He stated: "This stand of old trees brought many benefits for Maidstone. I am particularly shocked that the Council could do nothing to save them". He continued: "The irony is that I had insisted on lime trees being used as part of the planting scheme for the new hotel opposite to compliment those on the Clive Emson site, and in time create a lime avenue. Sadly this opportunity to provide a really high quality landscape feature has now been lost."

Lib Dem Planning spokesman Tony Harwood was appalled by the destruction: "These trees were much loved by local people and I deplore their destruction. The Clive Emson site's former life as Maidstone's dole office means that these trees were particularly well known and a real local landmark". He added "Lime trees are a particularly effective weapon in the battle against traffic pollution, as their large downy leaves act as biological filters removing airborne particles, such as diesel fumes, from the atmosphere. These sooty particles have been linked to increased incidence and severity of respiratory and cardiac illness."

Cllr. Fran Wilson hopes that some good can come out of this latest local environmental tragedy: "Over and over again we have begged MBC to be more proactive in protecting trees that form an important part of our townscape. Should this destruction be a precursor to a planning application , we will fight to ensure this row of lime trees is replaced as part of the development. We are also launching a high profile campaign where local residents are invited to tell us which urban trees are most important to them and local wildlife, so that we can persuade Maidstone Council to protect them with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)."