Our Plans And The Beech Tree

Our Plans And The Beech Tree

5th January 2021 Uncategorised 0
Original plan for the Visitor Centre, showing the beech tree as a feature
Original plan for the Visitor Centre, showing the beech tree as a feature
The original Visitor Centre design, showing the beech tree as a central feature

The Consultation just completed around the Planning Application for the redevelopment of the Coffee Shop/Visitor Centre has received a number of inaccurate and adverse comments, mostly around the proposal to remove a veteran Beech Tree, next to the existing Coffee Shop.

At the outset, I must clearly state that the Penllergare Trust would never remove a healthy tree, veteran or otherwise, purely on the basis of financial considerations. The welfare and stewardship of all the trees within Penllergare Valley Woods is of the utmost importance to all those involved and who give of their time and efforts freely, whether volunteers, staff or Trustees. Whilst, our regular tree safety surveillance inspections have led to the necessary felling of trees, mostly ash, where they pose a risk, we have also planted approximately 2.5 hectares of new woodland over the last two years, and that natural woodland regeneration is taking place in parts of the woods that had suffered from regular arson attacks experienced in the past.

Furthermore, the necessary felling of larch due to phytophthora infection will result in the planting of up to 8 hectares of new native broadleaved woodland on the east side of the valley over the next few years.

Whilst there is a need for us to strike a balance between our nature conservation objectives and the imperative to become more financially stable, a necessary condition to achieve those objectives, decisions in relation to the management of the Woodland are always taken with due regard to expert opinion and advice. Any decision to fell a tree would be taken only in accordance with the expert advice and opinion received on the health of that tree, in the best interests of our overall nature conservation objectives and of course, the safety of our visitors and supporters.

The new Visitor Centre was in fact initially designed around the Beech Tree in question. Given its importance, it was proposed that the Beech Tree should be made a feature, a centrepiece of the new building. Please see above the initial design which shows this clearly. Unfortunately, we received an independent expert report from one of the leading Arborists in the country who found the tree to be increasingly structurally unstable, with a number of serious issues, including two separate damaging fungal infections, which rendered it, in his professional opinion, to be a high risk to the intended structure and anyone in its vicinity. This would also apply to the existing Coffee Shop, Terrace, and to the safety of our many visitors. The Report recommended the removal of the tree.

Given the tree’s importance, the Trust commissioned a second report, and this came to the same conclusions. This latter report was added to the Swansea Council Planning Portal on 18.12.2020. It was with great reluctance therefore that the decision was taken to propose to remove the Beech Tree.

It is hugely regrettable that some of the comments submitted as part of the consultation process have sought to conflate the felling of the Beech Tree with the abhorrent felling of the Giant Redwood last year, implying that the Trust was somehow implicated in that crime. This could not be farther from the truth. The Giant Redwood was not on our land and was nothing to do with the Trust whatsoever. It was cut down by the builder of Mansion Gardens even though covered by a Tree Protection Order. We, like everyone else involved, were horrified.

Unfortunately, the unprecedented Covid situation severely limited the public consultation that we were able to undertake before plans were submitted to the Planning Authorities. Consultation was undertaken locally and through local news outlets and social media platforms. Although the plans themselves were well received, on reflection we recognise that such a limited consultation did not allow us to engage as fully as we would have liked.

Paul Baker

Chair of Trustees

Mae’r Ymgynghoriad sydd newydd ei gwblhau o amgylch y Cais Cynllunio ar gyfer ailddatblygu’r Siop Goffi / Canolfan Ymwelwyr wedi derbyn nifer o sylwadau anghywir ac andwyol, yn bennaf ynghylch y cynnig i gael gwared ar Goeden Ffawydden hynafol, wrth ymyl y Siop Goffi bresennol.

Ar y cychwyn, rhaid imi nodi’n glir na fyddai Ymddiriedolaeth Penllergare byth yn tynnu coeden iach, cyn-filwr neu fel arall, ar sail ystyriaethau ariannol yn unig. Mae lles a stiwardiaeth yr holl goed yng Nghoedwig Penllergare Valley o’r pwys mwyaf i bawb sy’n cymryd rhan ac sy’n rhoi o’u hamser a’u hymdrechion yn rhydd, boed yn wirfoddolwyr, staff neu Ymddiriedolwyr. Er bod ein harchwiliadau rheolaidd ar wyliadwriaeth diogelwch coed wedi arwain at gwympo coed yn angenrheidiol, ynn yn bennaf, lle maent yn peri risg, rydym hefyd wedi plannu oddeutu 2.5 hectar o goetir newydd dros y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf a bod adfywiad coetir naturiol yn digwydd yn rhannau o’r coed a oedd wedi dioddef o ymosodiadau llosgi bwriadol rheolaidd a gafwyd yn y gorffennol. Ar ben hynny, bydd cwympo llarwydd yn angenrheidiol oherwydd haint ffytophthora yn arwain at blannu hyd at 8 hectar o goetir llydanddail brodorol newydd ar ochr ddwyreiniol y dyffryn dros yr ychydig flynyddoedd nesaf.

Er bod angen inni sicrhau cydbwysedd rhwng ein hamcanion cadwraeth natur a’r rheidrwydd i ddod yn fwy sefydlog yn ariannol, yn amod angenrheidiol i gyflawni’r amcanion hynny, mae penderfyniadau mewn perthynas â rheoli’r Coetir bob amser yn cael eu hystyried gan roi sylw dyledus i arbenigwr. barn a chyngor. Byddai unrhyw benderfyniad i gwympo coeden yn cael ei wneud dim ond yn unol â’r cyngor a’r farn arbenigol a gafwyd ar iechyd y goeden honno, er budd gorau ein hamcanion cadwraeth natur cyffredinol ac wrth gwrs, diogelwch ein hymwelwyr a’n cefnogwyr.

Mewn gwirionedd, cynlluniwyd y Ganolfan Ymwelwyr newydd o amgylch y Goeden Ffawydd dan sylw. O ystyried ei bwysigrwydd, cynigiwyd y dylid gwneud y Goeden Ffawydden yn nodwedd, sy’n ganolbwynt i’r adeilad newydd. Yn anffodus, cawsom adroddiad arbenigol annibynnol gan un o Arboryddion blaenllaw’r wlad a ganfu fod y goeden yn fwyfwy ansefydlog yn strwythurol, gyda nifer o faterion difrifol, gan gynnwys dau haint ffwngaidd niweidiol ar wahân, a barodd iddo, yn ei farn broffesiynol, i fod yn risg uchel i’r strwythur a fwriadwyd ac i unrhyw un yn y cyffiniau. Byddai hyn hefyd yn berthnasol i’r Siop Goffi, Teras ac i ddiogelwch ein nifer o ymwelwyr. Argymhellodd yr Adroddiad y dylid tynnu’r goeden. O ystyried pwysigrwydd y goeden, comisiynodd yr Ymddiriedolaeth ail adroddiad, a daeth hyn i’r un casgliadau. Ychwanegwyd yr adroddiad olaf hwn at Borth Cynllunio Cyngor Abertawe ar 18.12.2020. Felly, gydag amharodrwydd mawr y gwnaed y penderfyniad i gynnig cael gwared ar y Goeden Ffawydd.

Mae’n destun gofid mawr bod rhai o’r sylwadau a gyflwynwyd fel rhan o’r broses ymgynghori wedi ceisio cysylltu cwympo’r Goeden Ffawydd â chwympo ffiaidd y Giant Redwood, y llynedd, gan gasglu bod yr Ymddiriedolaeth rywsut yn gysylltiedig â’r drosedd honno. Ni allai hyn fod yn bellach o’r gwir. Nid oedd y Giant Redwood ar ein tir ac nid oedd a wnelo o gwbl â’r Ymddiriedolaeth o gwbl. Cafodd ei dorri i lawr gan adeiladwr Gerddi Plasty er ei fod wedi’i orchuddio gan Orchymyn Diogelu Coed. Roeddem ni, fel pawb arall a gymerodd ran, wedi dychryn.

Yn anffodus, roedd sefyllfa ddigynsail Covid wedi cyfyngu’n ddifrifol yr ymgynghoriad cyhoeddus yr oeddem yn gallu ei gynnal cyn i gynlluniau gael eu cyflwyno i’r Awdurdodau Cynllunio. Ymgynghorwyd yn lleol a thrwy allfeydd newyddion lleol a llwyfannau cyfryngau cymdeithasol. Er bod y cynlluniau eu hunain wedi cael derbyniad da, wrth fyfyrio rydym yn cydnabod nad oedd ymgynghoriad mor gyfyngedig yn caniatáu inni ymgysylltu mor llawn ag y byddem wedi dymuno.

(Google Translated)

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