On Sandbanks Dorset, It's Tree Mugging Now, Not Hugging

dorset sandbanks.photo

Image from Mail online

It's called tree mugging, not treehugging, and it's not nice. Property values are at the root of it. In exclusive Sandbanks Dorset, the better your view of the harbour and the sea, the more your apartment is worth.

So if big ugly trees block the vista--get rid of them. And that's what people have been doing, despite a fine of £20,000 (US $32,500). The trees are mature and protected by preservation orders by the Council but what the heck. Over the past six months there have been 8 recorded attacks so far and many more attempts.

sandbanks views.photo

Image from Mail online

It's not bored roving bands of kids, it's adults who should know better but have put greed and self-interest before anything else in this very expensive resort area. The resort is the fourth most expensive place to live in the world and the most expensive seaside town, per square foot, in Britain. When asked how one house could be worth £8 million, an estate agent's response was "The view. Six million of that price is for the view."

Their preferred methods are painful to read. In the old days they used to attack by day with a chainsaw. Now they have refined their efforts and come at night, cut through the roots and put the soil back, so it can take months to discover the problem. Another method is pouring disinfectant fluid into the soil around the base of the tree. Or burying rock salt around the roots. Hammering copper nails into the tree trunks is also popular. There are deep slash marks in the trunks of some oak trees that obstruct views of the sea.

In one park silver birches were planted as a wind break, but its branches are hacked off regularly. The top of a hundred year old oak tree was lopped off--after the owner of the penthouse flat lost in his application to have it cut back. The flat owner denied any knowledge...

What to do ? Difficult to answer--fines don't seem to hinder people. One man was fined £7,500 last year for trying to kill a tree in his mother's garden (thanks, dear). There is pressure on witnesses not to give evidence. As the local enforcement officer said: "Some of the trees are hundreds and hundreds of years old. We won't get them back."

But the last laugh may be on the residents. According to one resident environmentalist, "the whole area could be engulfed by water by the end of the century, and some homes within 25 years. I keep trying to tell them, but nobody wants to hear that Sandbanks will be gone soon."

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