Pledge after fears are raised over tree felling for Kingskerswell bypass
CONTRACTORS have issued assurances after concerns were raised about the extent of ground clearance as work gets under way on the Kingskerswell Bypass.
Trees and hedgerows are making way for ground works on the £110million, 5.5kilometre dual carriageway.
Torbay Council and Devon County Council have confirmed work is on track despite the poor winter weather — and have said trees will be replaced.
Kingskerswell Parish Council chairman Edward Whereat said he has had many phone calls from residents about the trees being removed.
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"It's the scale of tree removal which has shocked some. The scale and the size of the area affected is now clear to be seen," he said. "Mature trees removed, including beech and oak, some over 100 years old removed in minutes by a chain-saw."
He said Devon County Council had confirmed 5.5km of field hedges and 0.44km of garden hedges, 70 mature trees and 1.1 hectares of woodland are being cleared.
But the road scheme will provide 3.5km of new hedges, 15.5 hectares of new woodland edge planting and scrub and 100 new specimen trees.
He said the Jubilee Wood in Churchway Lane has already been planted as part of the land swap deal with the parish council following the loss of land on the Kingskerswell Downs.
The parish council also received 200 trees from the Queen's Jubilee allocation.
A new play area for the under-10s is also planned for the village, but it has been delayed because the area has been water logged since the autumn.
Paul Ewings, chief engineer, highways and transport, at Devon County Council, said more trees would be planted than are being removed. He said: "Some concern has been voiced about work at the Newton Abbot end because some mature trees have had to come down between the road and the railway line. It's unfortunate but it's inevitable and has always been the case. But we never take anything down unless it is absolutely necessary and we are doing our absolute best to retain trees. The work is being done before the nesting season starts.
Mr Ewings said: "We will be replacing an awful lot of trees, as well as the 100 new specimen trees there is a lot of woodland planting — 38 acres."
Contractor Galliford Try is currently working on key aspects of the scheme, including removing a number of trees, shrubs and brambles and undertaking extensive ecological work to minimise the impact on wildlife and flora.
Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "We are pleased the project is still on schedule."
Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver said: "Credit must go to everyone who continues to work on site in far from ideal weather conditions."
Jim Watson, project director at Galliford Try, said: "We are pleased with how the project is progressing in the early stages of construction. However, we do realise the visual impact of the site clearance and removal of large trees along the route may cause some concern.
"We would like to reassure the community that Galliford Try does not cut down trees unnecessarily. The removal of the larger pine trees along Torquay Road is a delicate process due to the location next to Network Rail, the current A380 and the proximity of many local residents.
"It is necessary for some night time work to undertake these operations and we are endeavouring to keep local residents and interested parties informed throughout the process."