More canal-side ash trees illegally felled

Published: Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A NUMBER of mature ash trees by the Grand Union Canal at Willow Wren Wharf at Southall have been illegally felled, with branches falling on the towpath that were hastily removed.

Andrew Bailes tells the sorry story:

On Saturday morning (14th Jan) residents at Willow Wren Wharf, Southall, were woken around 8.30am by the sound of chainsaws working across the canal. There's a lorry park there and lots of warehouses, and until Saturday morning, there was also a beautiful stand of 60-70ft mature Ash trees.

The building and the land are on Boeing Way. The companies in the warehouse we can see in the photo (as well as the Wine Warehouse) are apparently Trends Interiors, Atlas Express and Taurus Packaging. The postcode is UB2 5LB.

Seem to be trimming

The workers seemed at first to be just trimming back the low-growing branches—which made sense as they were only one man with a chainsaw and a labourer. This trimming went on for a short time, but then the chainsaw guy switched to JCB, and started pulling down the trees branch by branch, using the JCB bucket as a grab and snapping off 20-40 foot long branches which made an almighty, appalling sound as they fell.

When my shock and surprise wore off, managed to call 101—their health and safety consideration for felling these trees above the towpath seemed to consist only of the labourer getting a lift over the fence in the JCB bucket and looking out to see that no-one saw what they were doing—and having been given a number for Ealing Council, I had a conversation with them too in which it was quickly established that no permission had been sought to fell the trees or to ‘close' the towpath.

Damage was done

By lunchtime, unfortunately, the damage was done.

Incident numbers have been recorded both with the MET and the local Council, and both have confirmed that they will investigate.

Following so swiftly on the heels of the last attack on Hayes and Southall's few mature trees (Created 'war zone' without permission) it seems that with raising land prices and the rush to develop the ‘Crossrail Corridor', these sort of cowboy attacks on our natural heritage are likely to increase.

Mindless vandalism

We all need to be on our guard. Though on this occasion we were too late to save the trees, it is hoped that those responsible will be identified, held to account and prevented from carrying out more mindless vandalism.