Thousands of trees to be felled at Lancashire beauty spot
Thousands of trees at a Lancashire beauty spot are due to be felled to prevent the spread of disease.
Work is due to start in February to remove around 2,500 larch trees covering 3.5 hectares at Healey Nab, which are affected by Phytophthora ramorum, an algae-like organism which causes Sudden Larch Death.
Lancashire County Council which owns the site has been issued with a Statutory Plant Health Notice by the Forestry Commission requiring the trees to be cleared.
This action is part of a national approach to managing the disease, and aims to stop the spores of the algae spreading and infecting other woodlands.
After the trees are removed the site will naturally regenerate with native broadleaf species such as birch, beech, holly, mountain ash and oak, which are already present at Healey Nab.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: "This is sad news as the removal of these trees will have a dramatic impact on the landscape of Healey Nab.
"However we have no choice but to comply with this legal notice, and accept that the overriding priority must be to prevent the spread of disease.
"While I share people's sorrow at the need to fell these trees, there will be some longer term benefits as the mixed native broadleaf species, along with undergrowth such as heather and bilberry, which will quickly begin to grow over the summer, will provide a better habitat for wildlife."
The county council has agreed a contract for the trees' removal which will see them used as biofuel to generate energy. Any income generated from the sale of the wood will be used to invest in Healey Nab and other countyside sites.
The work is being carried out in February to avoid any disturbance to birds during the forthcoming nesting season.
Healey Nab is principally managed as a recreational woodland site, and is popular with walkers and mountain bikers. The recent history of the site has also seen the woodland managed to produce timber with periodical thinning of the trees taking place to promote their growth to full maturity.
The county council has posted notices at the site about the tree felling, and is writing to a number of nearby residents in the immediate vicinity of Healey Nab to inform them of the work.