Call for Crawley council to ‘get a grip’ on Tilgate Forest treeworks

A group has concerns over tree works being carried out by a golf course in Tilgate Forest and the mess the company has left across parts of the forest. Steve Robards  SR1603973 SUS-160802-170719001
A group has concerns over tree works being carried out by a golf course in Tilgate Forest and the mess the company has left across parts of the forest. Steve Robards SR1603973 SUS-160802-170719001
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Controversial tree felling at Tilgate Forest will be debated at a Full Council meeting.

A Tory motion for Crawley Borough Council to have greater oversight of Tilgate Golf Centre’s works will be heard at the public meeting at the Town Hall on February 24.

Councillors Duncan Crow and Carol Eade said the cabinet member responsible should ensure the second phase of the works be carried out in a “much more sympathtic way to the natural environment than the first phase”.

Up to 90 people went to a Tilgate Forum meeting after concerns over the amount of tree felling and lost access to footpaths in the course were raised.

Cllr Crow said: “What matters now is the council getting a grip of the situation as soon as possible. That is why I have taken the unusual step of informing the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing of the motion long before the meeting takes place, because we want to work with him before the Full Council meeting to address the concerns being raised. I have proposed the motion as a driver for action and as an ‘insurance policy’ should enough progress not be made before the meeting.”

Cllr Carol Eade added: “While we understand the need for the management of the woodland, residents tell us it is the way it is being carried out and the sheer scale of the felling that is upsetting. We were shocked when we visited the golf course and saw it for ourselves.”

Their notice of motion reads: “Tilgate Golf Course is a premier golf course and, as a popular leisure facility in Crawley, is a great asset for the town. Due to its woodland and heathland habitat, the golf course is also an important habitat for wildlife and is a popular area for walking on its footpaths and public rights of way.

“On the 8th of February 2016, local councillors from Furnace Green and Tilgate visited the golf course for the first time in 2016 and were shocked at the sheer volume of tree felling. This has left behind an unsightly mess and has damaged footpaths and public rights of ways. This has taken place under the woodland management plan of the golf course operator.

“Local councillors welcome that the operator has agreed to a site visit with a group of local residents who regularly walk on the paths through the golf course, to identify any areas of concern for the second phase of the work in the southern half of the golf course and any remedial work needed to reinstate access to existing damaged areas, but feel that as the landowner, Crawley Borough Council should have a greater oversight of the work and its impact.

“Therefore, the Council instructs the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing to meet with the golf course operator with a view to;

1.     Seeking sound assurances that the second phase of the woodland management plan is implemented in a much more sympathetic way to the natural environment than the first phase.

2.     Ensuring that the damaged footpaths are returned to a usable condition as soon as is reasonably possible and the adjacent areas cleared, 10 metres either side; of any hazards, such as damaged overhanging branches and sharp broken stumps, as these pose a significant health and safety risk to users and their animals.

3.     Identifying and protecting healthy mature trees from being felled in locations that do not have a detrimental effect on the playing of golf or do not have any negative impact on the management of the woodland.

“The Council further requests that the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing maintains a dialogue with the golf course operator throughout the duration of the works and keeps members updated, as appropriate, with the implementation of the woodland management plan.”

The council meeting will start at 7.30pm.

Cllr Francis Guidera (Con, Tilgate) supported the motion and said: “The golf course is in Furnace Green but it is also popular with walkers from both Tilgate and Maidenbower too. We must protect the mature trees, trees that help to make the golf course the visually stunning place that it is.”

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