Marlhill Copse re-opening; tree work planning application lodged

marlhill copse trees marked 460Updated Marlhill Copse, an area of woodland bought by the airport in August 2018 to the south of the runway, is due to be largely re-opened today (April 2), and a planning application for further tree work has been lodged.



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The popular walking route was closed to the public last October after the airport said it had received “specialist advice that some of the trees are unsafe and present a risk to the public”. The airport also referred to the need for “aerodrome safeguarding” work – “the term used in aviation to allow for the management of obstacles to ensure planes can take off and land safely".

marlhill copse entrance closed 1
The River Walk 'entrance' to Marlhill Copse when it was closed

In a statement Southampton Airport said: “Much work has been undertaken on site to remove this risk [of unsafe trees]” although “one small area within the copse will remain closed whilst further work is carried out and should be fully opened later in the spring.” According to a social media post on a public page about Marlhill, work has recently been taking place “chopping the pine trees down”.

In response to news that trees could be felled, a series of protests took place last year attracting considerable media attention (eg TV coverage here and here), a petition “to protect Southampton’s Marlhill Copse” gained over 4000 signatures, there were threats to occupy trees, a website was set up, and a High Court injunction even halted tree works for a period.

Airport forms community group

The airport said it’s recently formed a Marlhill Community Group to “ensure that the improvements made to the copse are sympathetic to the environment, sensitive to the local ecology and incorporate ideas and feedback from those who live in and love the area”.

The group includes representatives from Townhill Park Residents Association, Hampshire Gardens Trust, SO18 Big Local, local ward councillors, Bitterne Park School, an ecologist and woodland management expert. The airport said it held its inaugural meeting at the beginning of March, which included a guided tour of the site, and discussed ideas for “regeneration”.

“We will continue with a programme of further improvements including the installation of new signage carved out of wood from the copse, community events, and footpath regeneration which will include the installation of information boards detailing the history, flora and fauna that can be found within the natural woodland habitat,” said the airport, which also said “further works are needed to be carried out next winter. This will require the temporary closure of some areas of the copse on a staggered basis in order that the copse remains open.”

• The airport says community feedback, ideas or questions about Marlhill can be emailed to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Planning application

Update: The airport has lodged a planning application, validated March 29 with Southampton City Council, for further tree works at Marlhill Copse, "seeking consent for works to tree(s) subject to a Tree Preservation Order" and for works in a conservation area: details are on the council's planning portal (ref 20/00067/TPO): Plans & Documents > Application Form (pdf).


Updated 3/4/20 with information about planning application. The application wasn't available online when the original article was written.

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