Felling of the monkey puzzle tree raises questions

1:50pm Thursday 8th November 2012

By Allan Tunningley

THE sheer bloody-mindedness of the Lake District National Park Authority’s decision to axe the Brockhole monkey puzzle tree has astounded me.

I believe that to push ahead with the felling was an act of ecological and cultural vandalism.

No wonder campaigners fighting to save the 110-year-old tree ended up in tears.

In my view, the national park leadership should hang their collective heads in shame.

What, I ask, is a national park supposed to be for?

I thought it was about protecting the landscape - both natural and cultivated, as in the case of Brockhole’s garden.

National park authorities should certainly not be in the business of developing theme park-style visitor attractions in direct competition with private businesses. This is what appears to be happening at Brockhole with its tree-top walk and new jetty and plans for a zip wire, watersports centre and wedding and concert venue.

It would have been much better for the LDNPA to sell off Brockhole and use the money to preserve the Lakeland landscape and its iconic settlements. Instead, a lot of public money is being poured into the place at a time when public institutions and organisations are supposed to be tightening their belts.

What I find amazing is that the authority was able to grant itself planning permission for the work at Brockhole.

I can imagine what the LDNPA would have said if a private business wanted to introduce such attractions on the shores of Windermere.

You only need to recall the failure of the Honister Slate Mine zip wire bid to get an idea of what I mean.

It’s a point which raises fundamental issues about whether park authorities should be allowed to grant its own planning approvals, especially such contentious ones.

I believe it’s also legitimate to question why the authority was allowed to be judge, jury and executioner in the case of the now lost monkey puzzle tree.

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