26th May 2023

Tree blocking public footpath in Becky Addy Wood can now be cleared

Bradford on Avon Town Council will be removing the fallen ash tree blocking the public footpath in Becky Addy Wood.

Becky Addy Wood has been the subject of legal action, and as a result, we have been careful when sharing information.

On Friday, 10 February 2023, FROBAW was granted a temporary injunction from the High Court without our attendance.

As a result of this injunction, we are “prohibited from cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, and wilfully damaging or destroying any tree in Becky Addy Wood”.

Following this, a large ash tree (around 20 metres tall and with two stems – one of approximately 70cm and another of approximately 25cm diameter) fell across the public footpath on Thursday 12 or Friday 13 April, obstructing the public footpath.

Clearance of this fallen tree might have posed a risk of contempt of court, given the High Court Injunction, as advised by our solicitors.

As this ash tree fell, it caused substantial ecological damage. The damage to surrounding habitat included:

  • The damage/destruction of 4 features suitable for bat roosts
  • 3 further trees
  • And damage to ground flora including Herb Paris, British Bluebell, Wild Garlic and Wood Anemone

Managed sectional felling and/or monolithing of ash trees can prevent this sort of collateral damage to the ancient woodland habitat.

Ash Die Back is a disease that is expected to kill an estimated 70 to 85% of ash trees.

In order to maintain long-term resilience, we would like to slowly expand the variety of tree species in Becky Addy Wood.

FROBAW (and its tree surveyor) asserted that no tree works in Becky Addy Wood were necessary.

To avoid unnecessary legal expenses and to continue its long-standing effort to work in partnership, we proposed a way forward on Friday 17 February involving the employment of 2 independent experts (and arborist and an ecologist) appointed by their professional bodies to produce a 2-year management plan.

The High Court hearing scheduled for Wednesday 3 May when we would have had the opportunity to contest the injunction. The proposal was accepted on Tuesday 2 May and a High Court Order was issued on Wednesday 3 May.

We requested an amendment to the Court Order to make it clear that we would be allowed to clear the fallen tree without causing any legal risk to the Town Council while the High Court injunction is still in place.

The other party has agreed to this, and so we are able to carry out the work to clear the public footpath. We are arranging for our arboricultural contractors accompanied by an ecologist to safely clear the path.

We are sorry to the members of the public whose recent enjoyment of the path has been affected. Our goal has been to protect and enhance Becky Addy Wood’s biodiversity and to serve as a community asset since we purchased it in 2020.