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Burley villagers fight for platinum jubilee oak trees plan which was rejected by verderers

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A DECISION is due next week on whether to allow plans to plant a dozen oak trees in Burley for the Queen’s platinum jubilee that were initially rejected by the verderers.

During a debate at the Verderers’ Court villagers clashed with commoners over the parish council’s ambition for a small copse on land at Cotts Lane as part of a nationwide scheme to “plant a tree for the jubilee”.

But fears over incremental loss of grazing for livestock led the verderers to reject an initial application in January, allowing just one tree.

Burley representatives Andrew Morris, Lucy Bramley, Philip Daubeney, Robert Clarke and Roger Hutchings all spoke in support of the plant to plant a dozen trees for the jubilee
Burley representatives Andrew Morris, Lucy Bramley, Philip Daubeney, Robert Clarke and Roger Hutchings all spoke in support of the plant to plant a dozen trees for the jubilee

However, the debate has continued with representatives from Burley making impassioned pleas for a rethink.

The verderers were set to discuss the application in closed committee before announcing their decision next week.

Cllr Robert Clarke, of Burley Parish Council, claimed the verderers lacked transparency in their decision-making process and had rejected requests for a roundtable meeting to discuss the issue.

He declared: “You should not be surprised to learn that people are being heard to regard your reaction to our well-intended request as ridiculous, and reflective of the way you seem to be ignoring the health of non-enclosed woodland elements of the New Forest, so characteristic of Burley village.”

Burley resident and co-leader of the New Forest Green party Lucy Bramley added: “Remaining fragments of ancient woodland are significant carbon stores and important places for wild species.

“Creating new woodland where once there once was forest cover has the greatest potential to sequester carbon.”

However, Commoners Defence Association spokes-person Mike Eccles said the proposal was against the spirit of the New Forest Act 1877, which sought to protect land for commoning.

He declared: “We support the verderers’ policy and their initial response, and recognise the need and importance of a consistent approach to these kinds of requests which will inevitably come from more parishes.”

Dr Gail Pettifer, vice-chair of the Friends of the New Forest, said the conservation group also supported the verderers’ refusal.

“An uninformed contention was made that the modest tree proposal would be a useful contribution to the Forest’s climate change response,” she said.

She added: “The habitats of the Forest are already very good carbon sinks. Indeed, evidence shows that when these habitats are restored they perform better. The fact is, restoring wetlands and grasslands can give far more benefit than afforestation.”

Commoner Lyndsey Stride said important Forest heath-land would be lost if tree planting went ahead.

She continued: “We have seen so many large trees fall recently and I completely agree with those members of Burley Parish Council who say that our ancient woodlands are losing some of their most precious trees.”

“So why are we not asking for more trees to be planted in the woods? Why are you asking to take away heathland which is so precious? Why are we not asking Forestry England to restore our chestnut coppices?

“Why are we asking for 12 trees on heathland when we should be asking for many more in the woods?

“Twelve trees is not going to make a difference. We are all heading in the same direction, we just need to stop arguing and be creative.”

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