The ‘old chestnut’ of what Tenby’s South Parade would look like without its avenue of trees was answered this week as felling work began.
The decision was made to cut down the horse chestnut trees, which have stood in front of the resort’s historic town walls since they were planted in 1955, after they were found to be carrying the fungal infection Kretzschmaria deusta.
Work began on Tuesday morning to remove the trees, and speaking at a meeting of Tenby Town Council that night, the town clerk, Andrew Davies, told members that Pembrokeshire County Council’s tree and landscape officers, along with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s tree officer, Mike Higgins, took action ‘as soon as possible’ following a detailed examination, after one of the trees collapsed due to strong winds at the beginning of the month.
An independent arborist also inspected the trees and it was advised that the remaining trees should be felled, given they all exhibited at least one of three threatening conditions, with the likelihood of the fungus having spread from one to the next via their root systems.
Mr. Davies also explained that the soil may have been contaminated from the tree roots, which would likely delay a decision on replacement planting.
“The consensus from the officers is that there should be some form of replacement trees planted there, but Mr. Higgins said that too many trees growing close together wouldn’t do them any favours, so they may consider a reduced scheme,” he told councillors.
“PCC have assured us that the town council will be involved with any discussion on what goes back there, although there is unlikely to be anything in the short term and I’d be surprised if anything happens before September,” continued Mr. Davies, adding that the majority of social media comments he had seen online, seemed to favour some form of replacement trees.
Clr. Mrs. Caroline Thomas said that it was important for the town council to be involved fully in any discussions on what replacement scheme was considered, with the Mayor, Clr. Mrs. Sue Lane, agreeing.
“I’m not saying that we don’t have anything along there, but there has to be consultation,” The Mayor told her colleagues.
“The historic town walls look fantastic, standing proud and protecting Tenby. I got the shivers looking at them after the first trees were cut down!” she added.
Clr. Laurence Blackhall said that it was a chance to ‘look afresh’ at the South Parade now the trees had come down. He also said that some consideration needed to be given to the state of the pavement, once the tree roots came up, as the walkway was very uneven.
“The decontamination has to be done, and then we must decide what will suit everyone best, rather than make a hasty decision,” he remarked.
Clr. Mrs. Thomas also said that a review of all the benched seating along the South Parade needed to be conducted now more than ever.
“The benches are now all the more visible without the trees and are in desperate need of being painted, along with the bins. We also need to keep an eye on the town walls and what rubbish bags are being left up against them.
“We need to make sure our town walls look immaculate, too, as they are much more visible,” she commented, with Clr. Blackhall agreeing, and stating that PCC needed to clamp down on people and businesses putting their rubbish out where they shouldn’t along that area.