Response to ‘tree cutting’
7:50am Thursday 16th August 2012 in Letters
WITH regret we have decided to take this opportunity to reply to the somewhat churlish letter published last week regarding “tree cutting” at the cliff top (Penarth Times, August 9).
It would appear from the tone and the terminology used, that the author may have based their opinion on emotion rather than facts. Although we have been inundated with positive feedback and support from our neighbours and visitors to the area, we feel that it is necessary to provide a different perspective.
Last year my wife and I took ownership of a much neglected, vermin-infested property at Whitcliffe Drive. Since occupying the building, we have spent considerable time and expense managing our rat situation.
Whilst we now appear to have removed the rats from our property and garden we still occasionally observe large rats running towards the direction our house from the cliff face. At dusk these creatures can often be seen scurrying along the fence and kerb lines.
During a recent confrontation with a rat our household cat lost the sight in one eye. We believe the undergrowth at the cliff face provides an ideal habitat for these creatures. Given that some individuals dispose of fast food packaging behind the railings rather than put them in nearby waste bins, the vermin receive regular food.
While the local authorities endeavour to manage “some areas of the undergrowth” it would be far better if there was a consistent policy as intermittent areas of dense bushes make it extremely difficult for effective litter control. Several weeks ago one of our neighbours also confirmed a large rat had been caught in this area by their pet dog.
With regard to the author’s viewpoint on cliff side vegetation, it would appear that they may be somewhat misguided. There are numerous papers and reports on coastal cliff erosion which have suggested that the main contributing factors are in fact due to surface drainage, hydraulic loading and PH values subjected to the cliff face.
If we combine these with the extremely high tides and prevailing wind conditions in the Bristol Channel we will clearly experience ongoing erosion conditions. Our coastline is subjected to constant undermining of the limestone and clay stratum which in the long term leads considerable lateral erosion. Over the years myself and other Penarth residents have observed substantial ground loss along this section of the cliff top as the bed rock below continually recedes with the tide.
Studies suggest the excessive height of vegetation at the cliff face can often lead to additional surface erosion as trees and shrubs are blown over the cliff face taking large volumes of protective root soil. Evidence of this can be seen at any point on the cliff face between the esplanade and Lavernock point. One has to assume the Vale authorities and their respective consultants are suitably qualified to manage the coast line as they in fact have continually maintained the height of several hundred metres of vegetation at the cliff face.
It is our understanding that as part of the ongoing maintenance programme the Vale-approved contractors intend to install hundreds of metres of “stock fence” adjacent to the existing railings in the coming weeks as some areas of the railings and cliff face may be an issue.
While the letter writer was very expressive about examples “to children” regarding one individual using a chainsaw, it would appear that they have completely overlooked the fact that contractors employed by the Vale completed identical tasks earlier this year. They too used similar recognised landscaping tools, ie chainsaws and strimmers.
It is disappointing that the author chose to adopt this approach as it is an ineffective use of the valuable time of representatives of the police and local authorities. It would have been far more productive and perhaps informative if a “face to face discussion” had taken place.
It is not our intention to use this column to promote “media ping pong”, therefore we would welcome a structured and meaningful meeting with the author on the matter. Please contact the editor for further details.
Mr and Mrs Evans Whitcliffe Drive Penarth