When I bought the Damson Dene Hotel, one of my first jobs was to get rid of the conifers which were blocking the view. A “concerned neighbour” (as interfering old bats like to be known) got it into her head that we were planning to cut down an old oak tree in the car park and within ten minutes someone from the Lake District National Park Authority had slapped a Tree Preservation Order on the oak. I didn’t mind, as the oak was (and still is) one of the nicest things about the Damson Dene and I wouldn’t dream of cutting it down.
But is seems that the rules which the National Park Authority apply to ordinary citizens don’t apply to themselves. They own the grounds at Brockhole, which they’ve turned into an adventure playground. As part of their “redevelopment” plans they have decided to fell a historic Araucaria araucana (see here), which most people know as the Monkey Puzzle Tree. The Cumbria Gardens Trust has written a very measured objection to their proposal, but most ordinary people simply say that they are Philistines. The tree is over a hundred years old and is in perfect health. If it was in anyone else’s garden there’s no doubt at all that it would be subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and any attempt to cut it down would result in a trip to court and a five figure fine. However, the National Park Authority seem to think they are above the law. They are entrusted to enforce the rules, but they don’t choose to do so against themselves. This is an abuse of power of the worst kind and all those responsible, from the Chief Executive, Richard Leafe, downwards, to Marina Ramsden, the officer in charge of Tree Preservation Orders, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
It remains to be seen if they will find a tree surgeon who is sufficiently devoid of principles to carry out this evil deed, but if they do, he may have to contend with some of the good citizens here, who have chained themselves to the tree in protest.