Work to cut back horse chestnut trees in Brighton on hold

Neighbours’ fears that the council would cut back three horse chestnut trees while they are in full bloom have been eased.

The horse chestnut trees in Ditchling Rise

The three mature trees at the top of Ditchling Rise were marked with tree cutting signs which were removed on Wednesday, May 19.

Members of the Ditchling Rise Area Residents’ Association were worried that the trio would be lost because Brighton and Hove City Council has been felling diseased trees to tackle elm disease and ash dieback.

But Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said that the work was on hold.

Councillor Heley, who represents Preston Park ward where the trees are situated, said: “We have halted the tree pruning in Ditchling Rise until a future date.

“However, there are still concerns over the structure of some of the horse chestnuts on the street, so pruning work will still need to go ahead for the safety of anyone passing the trees plus nearby properties.

“We will inform residents on when the work will take place and ensure a longer notice period.”

Residents raised a number of concerns including the effect on nesting birds.

Councillor Heley said: “The pruning or removal of trees takes place throughout the year and not just during the autumn and winter months as trees which are diseased or structurally dangerous can require works at any time of the year.

“Stopping all pruning works at sensitive times of the year is not possible given the amount of necessary maintenance our trees require.

“We carry out detailed wildlife checks and every tree to be worked on will be checked for nesting birds or any other protected species.

“No work will be carried out on a tree with nesting birds unless it is an immediate danger to the public or property.

“If we must remove or prune a tree with a nesting bird, we take every care and precaution to make sure the birds or eggs are removed safely and taken care of by bird experts.

“Our arboriculture team and the contractors we use are all tree experts and joined the profession due to their love of and passion for trees and nature.

“They do not and will not remove or prune a tree or trees unless this work needs to be done.

“Not only are the essential day-to-day tree works taking place in the city, Brighton and Hove’s tree population is under attack from ash dieback and elm disease which is the reason so much tree work is taking place at present.”