Briefing note for parishioners from Kingscote Parish Council
25 August 2020
Introduction: About 1.3 hectares of land at Bagpath is registered as a Common. When originally registered as a Common, the land was predominantly rough pasture, but subsequently self-seeded trees have grown up. The trees are predominantly ash and sycamore and most of the ash are affected by ash dieback. Because many of the ash trees on the Common are close to a road or right of way there are safety issues, and this note is to let parishioners know what is proposed to manage the risks.
Kingscote Parish Council has discussed the ash dieback concerns at several meetings and obtained quotations for a professional assessment of the trees. However, we subsequently realised that the responsibility for looking after Bagpath Common remains unclear, since when it was registered as a Common the Commons Commissioner did not assign responsibility to any local authority. Consequently, the Parish Council contacted Cotswold District Council (CDC) in an attempt to clarify responsibilities.
As the responsibility of the common is unclear, CDC has offered their assistance in assessing the health and safety of trees on site whilst further legal advice is obtained. CDC has initiated the following actions so far:
- Two members of the CDC Tree Team have visited the site and confirmed that all the ash trees are affected by ash dieback, some very badly.
- The Tree Team recommend felling all the ash trees, and because of the difficult terrain they also recommend removal of the felled trunks.
- The Tree Team has prepared a specification for the work proposed and requested quotations from contractors. A felling licence has also been applied for from the Forestry Commission. A felling licence must be in place prior to any tree works starting. This can be applied for by anyone and goes with the land.
- Gloucestershire County Council and Highways have also been contacted to investigate any responsibilities they may have due to the adjacent highway.
CDC is in the process of obtaining further legal advice regarding how the proposed works are to be progressed and how this will be financed. A member of the Estates Team at CDC is preparing a brief for the management at CDC addressing the issues outlined above. We believe that this brief will include the legal advice on responsibility for the Common, the current situation with the trees, and the likely cost of the proposed work based on the quotes from contractors.
Next steps: The Parish Council is keen to ensure that local residents are properly consulted. Once CDC has proposals for the way forward, we have asked for a meeting to be arranged with the parish, and for CDC to allow for full consultation before work is implemented on the trees.