Dispute over tree felling

The weir at Halton Lune Hydro.
The weir at Halton Lune Hydro.
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Claims that trees have been chopped down illegally to make way for a new hydro-electric generator on theRiver Lune near Halton have been rejected by engineers.

A Lune Valley man, who did not wish to be named, said that “two very old protected trees” had been cut down contrary to permission from Lancaster City Council. The man said: “These trees have been there for hundreds of years and their lives have been ended in the twenty first century by people who profess to be environmentally friendly.”

But John Blowes, Halton Lune Hydro engineer, said: “It’s always a shame to remove trees, and I think we have lost far too many in this area just recently, but these were a small rather disfigured multi-trunk sycamore of no particular value and a larger one, an ash, which only had a horizontal root structure into the banking.”

The trees were also blocking statutory access to Forge Weir by the new hydro building, and were over the line of a new natural stone clad retaining wall built specifically to save the mature woodland trees from undercutting river erosion, said Mr Blowes.

He added: “Lancaster City Council told us they did not see a problem in removing them earlier in 2013 and we offered an area of tree planting in our removal application as compensation.

“The council has now received a complaint and so are going back through all of the paperwork with our co-operation regarding the validity of permission to remove.”

The city council said it was currently investigating an alleged unauthorised removal of two protected trees on land adjacent to Forge Bank Weir, Halton.

Work started on the new hydro scheme this year, and will continue for most of the year.

Power was last generated from the site in the 1930s.

It has the potential to provide power to almost a third of Halton when fully operational.

Mr Blowes added that once finished, the area would be very much improved for both walkers and educational and interest visits.