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MONMOUTHSHIRE: New forestry track

A FORESTRY track which allowed trucks up to 44 tonnes to pass within five metres of a country cottage and through its garden is to be moved.

David Walsh, who lives with his young family at Woodman’s Cottage, east of Llandegfedd Reservoir, off the country lane running to Llanbadoc, reached an agreement with Tilhill forestry and the owner of woodland at the back of his house to move the forestry track.

It has required a new access from the classified R102, a rural lane subject to national speed limits, and will reinstate a “long disused access track” running through the garden.

The new access and track, which will be built to “forestry road standards” will run alongside the eastern and northern boundary of the garden and will be up to 25m away from the cottage while the access will be 15m further east from the current entrance which will be closed up and a new hedgerow planted.

Some trees, which are described as “largely forming an under managed hedgerow”, will have to be felled to create the access but two mature oak trees, including one in the access area, will be retained.

Monmouthshire council’s highways department said keeping the oak would interfere with a driver’s view when exiting the site, but the planning department said moving the access away from a bend in the road was still an improvement, a view also shared by highways.

Planning officer David Wong’s report said though removing the oak would be the “ideal scenario” it is also “a valuable feature for ecology and forms the intrinsic character of this part of the open countryside” and said it could remain as the application “on balance” would improve highway safety.

One neighbour had objected to the new access, which they didn’t think would be suitable for large forestry vehicles, and said: “The only access to this property has been through the property itself, its called ‘Woodmans Cottage’, the cottage was linked to the woodland.”

Local councillors supported the application with Meirion Howells, who represents the ward on the county council, saying: “The new track will be safer for the residents as well as the building as the track will be a substantial distance away from the property. Currently, forestry and agricultural vehicles pass within a few metres of the applicant’s home.”

Community councillor Val Smith said the track would: “segregate young active folks living at the property from any vehicles, especially heavy forestry, agricultural machines.”