Dear Villagers who signed up to the tree planting around the village,
On Friday I received the following email from the council regarding the village tree planting in aid of the village church:
Good morning Mark,
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. From discussing this matter with my colleagues in the Highways team it seems that there are a few complications with planting trees that I need to make you aware of.
Firstly, there is an annual charge for using highway land. This figure is approximately £60 per area. I am still researching what qualifies as an area with my team, but it seems that each verge would qualify as a minimum.
Secondly, you would need prepare a method statement and risk assessment for this work being undertaken. This is because the work would be undertaken on a highway verge. If this is commercial project, then the appropriate insurance may also be required.
Thirdly, the Parish Council would need to be consulted prior to the plans going ahead.
Finally, you would need would also need to check if there are any utility’s in the desired verge. If utilities are present you may not be able to cultivate it as utility companies need free access. If they are able to cultivate where utilities are you will need to be aware that a utility company will rip the plants\trees out for access and they will not replant them.
I have been pondering what to do since I received it, as I thought that it had killed the project stone dead. Continuing as planned would mean that any profits that were supposed to be donated to the church will be eaten up by the highways charge in the first two years, not to mention the insurance as well.
I have not had clear confirmation about what is a ‘chargeable area’ but the forestry officer suggested that it may be per verge, of which there are four that I had hoped to plant on, making the bill £240 per year. It may even be per length of verge which will increase the cost further.
I will write to the forestry officer again to see if there is a way around this but I’m afraid it looks as though the scheme will be reduced to a ‘sponsor a tree’ sort of affair whereby I will do all the planting elsewhere on private land and people can sponsor a tree, commemorated to them, as before.
I realise that this takes out the best elements of the plan, seeing everyone out planting their own trees which will be remembered for them, but I don’t think there is another way.
I will fully understand if anyone who did sign up for a tree does not wish to go ahead now, but for all those who do still want their tree planted and recorded I will be happy to plant it for them in a place which they will see near the village.
I would like to stress that the forestry officer for Rutland was very supportive of the idea, and seemed genuinely interested in trees and how to encourage more of them. He did not commit to anything of course, but I just wanted to make it clear that he is not being obstructive.
I am sorry to have let everyone down in this way, and would like to thank the seventy people who put their names down for a tree for their support.
I hope that some, if not all, will still go ahead as planned.
P.S. If you know someone who signed up but has not had this email please pass the message on!