Southampton Airport will start woodland management work on its land at Marlhill Copse today (Tuesday, October 23) following advice from a chartered arboriculturalist.
The airport purchased the copse in August 2018, in order to undertake tree management activities required under European legislation.
However, within the past week, airport management has received specialist advice that some of the trees are unsafe and present a risk to the public, and work to remove this risk will begin immediately. The copse is being closed to the public today to protect members of the local community, and preparatory ground work to remove fallen tree branches and shrubs at ground level will commence ahead of tree management work being carried out as soon as possible.
Head of Aerodome, Dan Townsend, said: “The ancient woodland has not been managed for many years and as part of our new ownership we undertook a number of surveys to understand the current condition of the trees as well as the ecological make up of the woodland in terms of the presence of any protected species. These reports have now been completed.
“We commissioned a qualified chartered arboriculturist to report on any concerns he had with tree health and the presence of any dangerous, diseased or dying trees. The results of this report have highlighted a number of trees, which in his expert view, need to be managed as soon as possible as they represent a hazard to the public using the area and homeowners in adjacent properties.
“Having walked through the woodland last week there are a number of large tree limbs that have fallen near to the path used regularly by walkers. With the inclement winter weather on the horizon this is likely to become more frequent.
“For these reasons of public safety, we have regrettably had to take the decision to immediately suspend access to the copse.
“Our priority is to make the woodland safe for the public; we will also be improving pathways and planting more trees with the plan to reopen it to the community by Spring 2020.
“We know that this is a popular walking route and apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst this important safeguarding work is carried out. I hope that Riverside Park will provide a suitable alternative whilst we undertake the works necessary to return the copse to a safe, well managed woodland that is, and has been for many years, demanded by the local community.”
Residents adjacent the affected trees have been notified by letter. Further updates will be published on our website here.