Council workmen have taken a chainsaw to a tree blocking a footpath in the latest twist to a long-running “right of way” dispute.
Edward and Angela Bradley, of Nether Moor Farm, South Crosland, were told by Kirklees Council to move the large oak which had fallen across the footpath on land they own in Dean Wood – or face prosecution – following a complaint from a member of the public.
The couple said they had asked to meet Kirklees officers to discuss the issue – but got no reply.
And now council workmen have finally removed it.
The couple had argued that the tree provided a haven for wildlife and that a diversion had already been created to take walkers around it three years ago.
They also said that the footpath concerned may not even be the official one intended for public use because the wood had several paths running through it.
Mrs Bradley said: “We are disappointed that Kirklees Council have thought it necessary to come onto our land and remove a living oak tree that has been in situ for in excess of 40 years without complaint.
“We had offered to meet them and remove the tree ourselves if they could not agree to the limited obstruction and the use of the five-metre bypass created three years ago by the council and Friends of Dean Wood with the aid of lottery funding.
“We are still not convinced that this tree actually obstructed the definitive footpath.”
Mrs Bradley added: “Kirklees’ refusal to discuss this matter is indicative of their failure to consider the natural environment.”
And she claimed: “We tried our best to protect this oasis of nature in Huddersfield but we were undone by Kirklees Council jobsworths.”
Mrs Bradley said there were other obstacles in the area the council has agreed to which cause greater inconvenience to the public. She said: “There’s a byway open to all traffic which is marked on the definitive map which should have vehicle access but which has been replaced by a footbridge wbere riders have to walk their horse across and which vehicles cannot use because it is not wide enough.
“Why is a tree that has been there over 40 years and may not even be on a public footpath regarded as an inconvenience? And why is having to make a five-metre detour round a tree on a four kilometre walk regarded as unacceptable?”
In a statement, a Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The council received a report of a fallen tree which on investigation was shown to be blocking a footpath. We contacted the landowner and asked them to clear the route. We advised that we would assist by removing the section that blocks the route for them. This has now been carried out.
“The council undertakes works of this nature in such a way to minimise any impact on the environment and checked for signs of a bat roost prior to carrying out the work.”