Fears have been expressed that a copse in parkland close to Millmead Way is under threat of destruction in the coming days, after markings appeared on a group of mature trees.
The alarm was raised on the Bengeo Residents Facebook Group after blue dots were sprayed on a large number of trees in the woodland between the park and River Beane.
I noticed last week a proliferation of blue paint markings to the group of mature trees and surrounding footpaths to the Beane Road end, next to the river. Given that all the trees in this copse appeared to be marked I was considerably alarmed in the knowledge that this was probably signaling wholesale removal. From chatting to few others who'd noticed the same thing, I learnt that there is an 'approved' scheme in place by the Environment Agency to build a waterway (slipway ?), and weir just beyond the bridge on this piece of land, just for fish conservation purposes, and that preparation work is now underway. To accommodate this my understanding is that they will remove and destroy this small area of woodland natural habitat, which if correct I personally find completely shocking. It will presumably have local authority/E.Herts approval, but there appears to have been no public consultation whatsoever. That this is taking place to an area of directly adjoining land Beane Marsh, that has just achieved special nature reserve status (through the excellent work of the SBM group), and is in direct contradiction to the Bengeo neighbourhood Area Plan, makes it all the more unbelievable.
Local councillors have reacted with concern. Cllr.Ben Crystal said: "It seems that the plan is to create a bypass on the weir to allow fish etc to travel up and down the Beane, to help restore it. Restoring the chalk stream is vital - they are rarer ecosystems than rainforest. If trees are lost they can (and must) be replanted. The project is being led by EA and Countryside Management Service at HCC so the blue marks might be where contractors are marking for the plans". Cllr Peter Ruffles posted "This news today, for which thanks, does alarm.".
Millmead Park is one of the 8 green spaces identified for additional protection in the Bengeo Area Neighbourhood Plan, which is scheduled for public referendum in May.
The Environment Agency has been approached for comment.
Update 16/1/21: It has now been established that the markings were placed by contractors surveying for Hertfordshire County Council ahead of works to create a fish bypass. A further public consultation is expected before any further work take place.
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