By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Environmental campaigners have voiced concerns over plans to cut down four trees as part of work to renovate a cemetery.
Newark Town Council is planning to remove two of the trees as part of work to create a “carefully and sensitively designed” children’s burial area at the town’s cemetery “to help parents deal with the unimaginable loss of a child”.
Two other trees elsewhere at the cemetery would be removed due to “poor condition”.
But campaign group Protect Newark’s Green Spaces has urged the authority to consider whether the burial area can be created around the trees, which they say are around 100 years old.
A town council spokesperson said the trees are diseased – and added that the plans are not yet finalised.
The plans are part of the renovation of the Newark Cemetery in London Road, which also includes the demolition of the cemetery lodge, an expanded cremated remains area, plus a staff welfare block and toilet.
The entrance to the cemetery would also be improved and more parking spaces added.
Two mature pine trees on the site of the proposed children’s burial area could be felled as part of the plans and two cherry trees could be removed due to “poor condition”.
New tree planting is proposed to replace the trees.
The application by the town council is being made to Newark and Sherwood District Council.
The district council is a separate authority which makes planning decisions.
The application stated: “Whilst both trees might at best survive for another twenty years, they will require extensive interventionist pruning to manage them in their decline.
“Therefore, their removal and replacement is proposed, enabling the area to be re-purposed for children’s burials.”
Protect Newark’s Green Spaces is the group which fought and won a campaign which saw Newark and Sherwood District Council reverse a decision to fell four trees to build a car park – also in London Road.
They told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We are opposing the plans because we feel that, given the current climate crisis, it should never be an option to fell healthy trees, especially in a conservation area.
“If left to thrive, the two black pine trees planned to be felled have been assessed as having a potential life span of more than 20 years if the dead wood is removed from them.
“We would like the town council to nurture the beautiful trees and green space within the cemetery which is such a meaningful place for so many people in Newark.
“We understand the need for a children’s burial area but question whether the trees should be felled for this purpose or whether the children’s burial area could be created around the trees.”
There are a number of objections to the application and one letter of support.
One objection wrote: “The unnecessary felling of four more trees in our town, two of which are huge 100-year-old black pines, would be a travesty in this age of climate change and rapidly diminishing green spaces – a lesson Newark and Sherwood District Council should surely have learned from the reaction of the town’s people to the proposed destruction of the Library Gardens last year.”
A spokesperson for Newark Town Council said that “no formal designs have been agreed” and “an actual decision to cut down the trees has not been taken”.
They said the plans for the children’s burial area, which contains two mature pine trees, is “at this stage only a potential area for its location”.
They said in a statement: “These trees have been identified by the arboriculturist as trees that are in decline, suffering from disease, present safety concerns and have a remaining life span of around 20 years.
“The arboriculturist who has assessed the trees has a particular specialism in pine trees.
“The arboriculturist has informed us that there are potentially significant maintenance costs associated with safely managing a dying tree. Those safety concerns will be paramount due to the tree’s location in a busy and well visited cemetery.
“The Council in considering any final designs for the children’s burial area will need to mindful of the potential costs of managing the trees safely to their ultimate demise and consider if those funds may perhaps be better invested in other environmental protection measures.”
The town council added that it has planted a large number of new trees in recent years.