A planning application to fell trees at airport-owned woodland Marlhill Copse has currently received 44 online objections out of 46 comments – with calls for the decision to be made at a public planning panel meeting when this becomes possible.
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The application lists three Monterey pines, an ash tree and a beech tree for felling, which are “at various points along the main path running through Marlhill Copse” between River Walk and The Gregg School.
A number of problems are listed by the applicant (details are on the council's planning portal (ref 20/00067/TPO: Plans & Documents tab > Application Form (pdf))), such as dead and dying branches, the hazard of falling cones, and each pine tree is said to be “estimated at 100+ years and beyond useful life expectancy”.
As well as raising various issues including the effect on wildlife habitats, the climate emergency and the fact that many other pines in the city are of a similar age but not threatened (but rather should apparently be preserved, according to this report), some objectors express suspicions that the real motivation for felling is "commercial reasons".
The timing of the application is also questioned, with objectors expressing concerns about the decision-making process during the Covid-19 crisis.
Public comments, for and against, are from this link.
The application is listed as “Awaiting decision” on Southampton City Council’s planning portal, with no deadline for comments or decision dates available other than a "determination deadline" of May 24.
It’s also unclear how, or when, Eastleigh Borough Council (EBC) will eventually hear the airport’s controversial application to extend its runway given the current Covid-19 situation, and the level of public interest. EBC has said the council is keen to reinstate meetings as soon as possible, although they are also exploring virtual options for some meetings.
Minor updates and revisions made 9/4/2020 for clarity