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Trees feel the chop as Weymouth path takes shape
WORK has begun on a new footpath and cycleway in Weymouth but ‘dramatic’ cutbacks to two mature trees have caused surprise among residents.
Peter Minay, of Acacia Close, Southill, was shocked to find the two trees drastically cut back, but Dorset County Council, which is responsible for creating the new path, said the willows were rotten and that cutting them will allow them to re-grow.
Construction of the route, which will connect Chafeys Roundabout and Manor Roundabout, began at the end of August with scrub clearance.
The project includes a number of pedestrian crossings on Weymouth Way following a petition set up by residents in the wake of the tragic death of five-year-old Lily-Mae Jeffries on the 50mph limit road in March 2012.
Dominic Fitzgerald, project engineer for the county council’s highways team, said: “It has been necessary to pollard, or cut close to the root, two willow trees near Belgrave Road, Southill, on the intended route.
“While this currently looks dramatic the trees will rapidly grow back.
“On inspection we found decay in the multi-stemmed sections and with the increased public access that the cycleway will bring the trees either required wholesale removal or pollarding on safety grounds.”
He added: “We want to preserve the look of the area and are keen to minimise clearance as much as possible so the trees were pollarded to retain them as landscape features.”
Mr Minay said: “My first thought when I saw these trunks was that they were victims of vandalism. They were completely cut back.
“But regardless, I do think the path is going in the wrong place.
“That area gets waterlogged in the winter.
“There are a lot of trees and bushes there and they are just bulldozing through it.”
A public consultation was carried out ahead of the route being laid.
Dorset County councillor for the area David Harris said he was ‘delighted’ to see the construction going ahead.
He said: “It’s always disappointing when trees have to be cut back or cut down but I think most of the work undertaken will allow the trees to recover where they have been diseased and younger vegetation will get the chance to grow.”
Users of mobility scooters would also benefit from the new route, he added.
Funding from the scheme was provided from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the Department for Transport cycle safety fund and Dorset County Council’s local transport fund.
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