16th September 2022

Bradford on Avon Town Council has withdrawn the proposal to sell Becky Addy Wood

Bradford on Avon Town Council has unanimously voted to withdraw the proposal to sell Becky Addy Wood.

At its Full Council meeting on Tuesday, 6 September, Bradford on Avon Town Council voted unanimously to withdraw its proposal to sell Becky Addy Wood.

At its July Full Council meeting, the Town Council agreed the terms that it would accept to sell the ancient woodland. 

These terms included a deadline by which the sale needed to be completed due to the Town Council’s requirement to undertake tree safety works – some of which needed to be completed immediately as they posed a risk to life. 

At the latest meeting of Full Council, the Town Council noted that FROBAW LTD had not agreed to the terms or met deadlines. 

Town Councillors are pleased that the most urgent works were completed between Monday, 8 August and Tuesday, 6 September where eight trees were safely felled whilst 11 were monolithed. 

This is minimal intervention to make diseased trees safe. 

Monolithing is the removal of vegetation high in a tree, leaving the bare trunks and stems, without felling the tree.  

This can greatly reduce the sail effect that can bring down trees in the wind.  

The tree may recover, or otherwise provide a valuable habitat as standing deadwood.

The Town Council’s work in the ancient woodland was carefully considered with continued ecological guidance. 

National and international experience of the disease ash dieback was reviewed and this guided the plan for Becky Addy Wood.  

The Town Council closed areas of the woodland to reduce the need to work on trees in those areas.  

Trees with ash dieback in these areas can then degrade and decay naturally, creating more cavities and splits which wildlife can occupy. The Town Council therefore surveyed trees with a risk of falling on the public footpath or road.

The first survey of trees near the footpath and road, in October 2020, was followed by a detailed ecological survey of every tree which may have needed work.  

This ecology survey identified features (holes, splits, hollows) which bats might use to roost, or birds might use to nest in.  

A further tree survey in May identified imminently dangerous trees that needed urgent work.  

As well as protecting people from dangerous trees, it is important to do tree work to protect nature and manage the ancient woodland habitat.  

In the February storms, a field maple tree with a known bat roost was blown over in the woodland.  

Field maple with a bat roost that fell in the February 2022 storms. Working carefully on dangerous trees can protect such wildlife from damage.

By working on trees in a controlled way the Town Council sought to avoid the damage to bats that storms might cause.

Before working on each tree, there were checks for nesting birds. An ecologist inspected potential features for bats and birds in the trees and, having checked they weren’t in use, features were protected where possible.  

All of the removed features were replaced by cutting carefully designed slits, holes and grooves in trees for roosting bats and nesting birds.  

In this way, the woodland has more of these habitat features than before work began.

Bradford on Avon Town Council has also:

  • Installed bird and bat boxes in the woodland
  • Carefully moved a natural beehive from a tree being worked on and away from the public footpath – the colony was monitored and is now well-established in a new location
  • Cut timber has been carefully left in areas for ground vegetation to develop, for trees to grow naturally, and for future replacement tree planting
  • Created valuable deadwood habitats which many species rely on but is absent in many woodlands
  • Created leaky dams made of wood and plant material, to hold back water during heavy rain showers – this helps prevent soil erosion in the woodland
  • Created new habitats, where plants and undergrowth can grow to make the woodland denser, with a complex structure that benefits biodiversity, and
  • Reopened the public footpath through the woodland for safe use by the whole community

During the winter period the Town Council will be taking the same careful and ecological approach, as it undertakes works on around 50 trees which have been identified as a risk to public safety. 

The Town Council is only working on trees that are a risk to public safety. 

These works will complete the emergency tree works first identified from a tree inspection carried out in October 2021. 

Completion of the emergency works will allow Bradford on Avon Town Council to concentrate on the recovery and long-term management of a woodland which has been neglected for many years.

As part of the development of a woodland management plan for Becky Addy Wood, the Town Council contracted ecologists in 2020 to survey and assess the biodiversity baseline of Becky Addy Wood.  

Their recommendations have guided the management of the wood, including managing the species mix and density of the woodland, managing informal paths and inappropriate use, installing bat and bird boxes in trees, planning for the effects of ash dieback and the woodland’s recovery.

Becky Addy Wood is an ancient woodland, which has been damaged and neglected. In its continued management of the woodland Bradford on Avon Town Council will put ecology at its heart. 

The Town Council plans for the woodland management should improve it so that the whole habitat including rare flora and fauna can be better protected, as well as being enjoyed safely by the community.