Green Wall Cut: Report finds ‘workers followed council’s plan’ Brighton News

WORKERS who almost completely removed a stretch of the historic green wall on Brighton seafront were following the council’s own ‘design plans and drawings’, an audit has revealed.

Last year, The Argus exclusively revealed how the 200-year-old living wall had been reduced.

The wall had been designated a Local Wildlife Site by Brighton and Hove City Council to give it greater protection.

But when council approved changes to the road alignment at Madeira Drive, including a new cycle lane, a contractor was ordered to cut foliage to improve visibility.

After the work was completed in March last year, there was an outcry, with Green activists saying they would hold a commemorative event, laying wreaths to protest the drastic pruning.

Green Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty has ordered an investigation into the destruction of the historic feature which towered over 60ft near Duke’s Mound and stretched nearly a mile.

L'Argus: The green wall dates from 1830The green wall dates from 1830

The council said it dates from 1830 and was the longest and oldest green wall in Europe.

A brief summary of the findings of the investigation was included in an internal audit report which stated that the £12.7m Black Rock project was expected to go over budget by over £2m.

The audit report stated: “We considered whether the reduction was necessary and found that a road safety audit had identified a road safety issue and recommended that “adequate intervisibility be provided, which may require reduction or removal of vegetation”.

“Based on the advice given to us on the issue of the severity of the cut, it is inconclusive as to whether the size could have been less severe.

“It was found that the contractors acted in accordance with the general plans and design drawings.

“Our review revealed that there was no regular planned maintenance in place for this section of the green wall, but there have been regular inquiries and complaints to council about overhanging vegetation affecting the visibility of pedestrians and road users.

L'Argus: An audit was ordered after a degradation of the green wallAn audit was ordered after damage to the green wall

The report adds: “Substantial regrowth of vegetation has already occurred.”

The report also stated: “One of the areas of interest was whether this section of living wall was protected by statutory designation.”

While he omits to say whether the green wall benefited from statutory protection.

However, in 2014 it was reported that Brighton and Hove City Council had designated the Green Wall as a local wildlife site to ensure its continued protection, as it was the only such site in the UK.

The report highlighted a program of conservation works and repairs to the concrete retaining wall behind the 90 different species of plants that grow there, including the fig tree and Japanese spindle.

The Argus: Report says much of the green wall has already grown backThe report says much of the Green Wall has already grown back

On Monday the council said: ‘Local councils have a statutory duty under section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to ‘take action to reduce and prevent accidents’.

“In order to comply with the law, the council was forced to heavily prune the vegetation in this place. We reiterate our apologies for the way this was done.

“From now on, less severe regular pruning will take place at a time of year that minimizes any impact on wildlife.

“Council officers met with an environmentalist on site to agree short and long term restoration plans.

“The audit report confirms that an inspection was carried out before pruning to check for the presence of nesting birds and that the vegetation has now grown back considerably.”

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This notice was published: 2022-06-29 04:00:00

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