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Suffolk MP wins reprieve for oak trees

PUBLISHED: 09:41 02 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 06 July 2010

A ROW of magnificent oak trees that were threatened with the axe have won a temporary reprieve following the intervention of Suffolk MP John Gummer.

Mr Gummer became involved after complaints from outraged nature lovers who claimed that chopping down the trees close to Westleton, between Leiston and Southwold, would destroy an important part of a wildlife reserve.

A ROW of magnificent oak trees that were threatened with the axe have won a temporary reprieve following the intervention of Suffolk MP John Gummer.

Mr Gummer became involved after complaints from outraged nature lovers who claimed that chopping down the trees close to Westleton, between Leiston and Southwold, would destroy an important part of a wildlife reserve.

The Forestry Commission, which is responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands, is working with the RSPB to restore rare lowland heath habitat in the area and claimed the American red oaks were an alien species.

But Mr Gummer has now stepped in and won the trees a temporary reprieve.

He said: “I talked to the chairman of the Forestry Commission and told him the plans were not at all popular. It is an extremely beautiful area, particularly at this time of year with the autumn colours, and very well used by walkers. People I've spoken to have all said that they would like to keep them.

“Trees are also very important sequesters of carbon - if you cut them down then it destroys that. I'm very keen on keeping them; we need more trees not less.”

Mr Gummer said he will be asking for the views of parish councils in Dunwich and Westleton as well as the town council of Leiston-cum-Sizewell before presenting the opinions to the Forestry Commission.

Last night a spokesman said the plans were first aired in public in February 2006 but confirmed work would be suspended until further notice.

“Before going ahead with the programme there was a full consultation,” he said. “We have gone through the full processes and there has been plenty of opportunity for people to have their say - it is only now that anyone has actually raised any objection.

“However, we are very open minded and we want to do our best to make the scheme right for all parties. For the moment we are suspending the work until we can explore all the possibilities.

“Once we have looked into it and had the necessary talks with people who have made representations then we will decide what's going to happen.”


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