Money would be better spent on trees

Thursday 5th May 2005 10:00 pm
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SIR — "Surrey comes to West Somerset". These words were used by a resident of Woolston Moor and they aptly describe what is happening to our landscape. The suburbanisation of this once beautiful area is taking place almost daily and there seems no end to it. The depredation begins with trees which as copses used to mark the lane junctions. These have now largely been removed together with many trees and bushes which lined the roads. Miles of hedgerow have been hammered into the ground and replaced with barbed wire fences. The wild flowers which once adorned our banks and verges have been tidied out of existence and anything liable to scratch or damage a car removed. Now our roads are being hideously scarred with red patches, the purpose of which is entirely unclear to me. These "improvements" are presently being followed by a proliferation of road signs, the latest of which has just been erected at the approach to Woolston Moor. This huge sign indicates the way to hamlets to the left and right of the A38 and is liable to direct extra traffic into these places. Surely the old country signposts were sufficient for small communities. The miracle is that people still come from far afield to walk and cycle these lanes but I doubt if they will return. Much of the wildlife does not return and has retreated to the Quantocks and the Brendons. What a pleasure it would be to learn that some of our money was being spent on replanting trees and hedgerows instead of on a few more signs. I once asked a Frenchman why it was that so much of France remained unspoiled and "unimproved" and why new roads in England, far from easing the traffic situation, filled up almost before they were finished. With a typical gallic shrug he said: "Of course if you bore 'oles in wood something will live in it." There would be some comfort if we could know that what is left will be preserved but I fear that no reassurance on this subject is likely. It seems impossible to discover who has been and who is presently responsible for all these unnecessary and expensive changes. A curtain of stock phrases and well tried explanations obscures the workings of local government. Gogols' "Government Inspector" would be at home in West Somerset. Richard Beale, Shell Cottage, Higher Vellow.

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