RESIDENTS of Bassaleg are rejoicing as Newport City Council backtracks on its plans to cut down mature trees.
Seven trees along Forge Lane were due to be felled on March 13, to make way for drainage works as part of the extension of Bassaleg School. Construction company Willmott Dixon are building a new teaching block, dining hall, and assembly hall to increase the school’s capacity.
The council had previously said the removal of the trees was “necessary” to the work, but has since confirmed only one of the trees will be cut down for now.
However, the council does have plans to cut down a further two trees later in the year, which campaigners have vowed to fight against.
On March 7, around 30 residents from Forge Lane and neighbouring Court Crescent turned out to voice their frustrations and urged the council to “save our trees”.
Rob Leather, who campaigned against the felling of the trees, said the community were “delighted” with the result.
Mr Leather said: “We would like to give our appreciation to Newport Norse, Willmott Dixon and NCC for listening to our concerns and finding a better solution to that originally proposed.
“However, something had gone very wrong here. A solution clearly existed that avoided such tree destruction yet those involved had placed little value on the trees and felt the incidental destroying of them for the sake of the Bassaleg School Development Project was entirely acceptable.
“That decision does seem at odds with both Newport Council’s organisational climate change plan and their tree policy. I hope a few lessons have been learnt from this.”
Conservative councillor John Jones praised the council, Newport Norse and Willmott Dixon for their response to concerns.
Cllr Jones, who represents Graig, said: “There will be a small increase in cost and time to the project, however, it will be of great value for the local community in many other ways.
“The effort that Rob, the community living at Forge Lane and the support from other local residents just shows what can be achieved. It gives hope to everyone when confronted with similar situations, open discussions as quickly as possible and ensure the correct people are aware of your concerns.
“I truly believe that everyone involved were prepared to listen and all meetings were very positive which contributed to this great outcome.”
A council spokesperson said: “Great care has been taken to protect trees on the site wherever possible, including an impressive oak, and an enhanced planting programme means there will be far more trees on the site than before the work started.”