A FEW weeks back, I wrote an article highlighting the anger of a number of local people about the Environment Agency’s decision to cut down a lot of trees on the towpath of the Surrey bank of the Thames near Weybridge.
I reported at the time that this was done to make it possible to construct new moorings for boats between Weybridge Ladies Rowing Club and the bridge connecting the towpath to D’Oyley Carte Island.
However, I stand corrected.
The Environment Agency has now made it clear that the majority of the trees that were cut down were diseased. Many were rotting from the inside – mainly seen where a tree forks allowing rain to enter and rot to take hold.
Additionally, several of the trees removed were horse chestnuts that were suffering from two specific types of infection – bleeding canker and an infestation known as ‘leaf miner.’ These diseases have affected a huge number of horse chestnuts all over the south of England and the only way to get rid of the problem is to get rid of the infected trees.
Andrew Graham, the EA’s Operations Manager, added: “Many of the trees which were removed were non-indigenous species and as part of our on-going commitment to the environment, we shall eventually be replacing most of these trees with indigenous species with a high ecological value.
“While I appreciate the visual impact the removal of these trees may have for people in the area, I hope they understand why it was necessary to carry out this work.”
The Agency will be carrying out improvements along this stretch of the Thames bank in the near future. These will be designed to improve access and facilities for a number of groups including boaters, walkers, cyclists and ferry users – all of which is most welcome.
One plea I should make, however, is that I hope one particular group doesn’t get overlooked in all this – namely the fishermen who use this stretch of the Thames. With more than four million anglers regularly buying licences to fish our waterways, I trust the EA will remember to include them in its thinking about riverbank improvements.
WHILST talking about the EA, they have started to carry out work to find out how they can improve eel populations in the Thames. I’ll be devoting a column to this in the next few weeks but in the meantime, I’d be interested to hear from you anglers about your experience with the declining number of eels in the river. Contact me at mortsmith [at] trinitysouth.co.uk or call me on 01932 561 111.