Felled trees a ‘terrible’ loss

WEEPING WILLOWS: Gareth Cole by the infected trees at Cornard Lock.
WEEPING WILLOWS: Gareth Cole by the infected trees at Cornard Lock.

A cluster of willow trees which line the water’s edge along the River Stour are to be cut down because they are infected with disease.

Thirteen trees on the banks of the river at Cornard Lock in Great Cornard are to be felled next week. The trees are all infected with watermark disease, which causes the leaves to turn red and die in the summer, but remain on the branch.

As the infection also makes the timber break easily, the trees are being cut down to prevent the disease spreading to nearby willows, which are used in the creation of cricket bats.

Nigel Monkcom, who regularly walks in the area, said he would be sad to see the trees go.

“I have enjoyed walking here for a while and this will be a terrible loss,” said Mr Monkcom.

“I understand that they have a disease, but it will be very difficult to replace these magnificent willows. “They are part of the whole ambience of the River Stour.”

Of the infected trees, nine belong to Bakers Mill Community Association, two to the River Stour Trust and the remainder a farmer.

Gareth Cole, chairman of the association, said those responsible had been notified of the disease in late June and decided action was needed.

“We have to safeguard the plantations of cricket bats,” he said.

“We are all unhappy that the trees have to go, as we don’t like to lose trees, but this has to be done.”

The trees are a feature of the Gainsborough Trial, which runs through Sudbury and Great Cornard, and some are up to 10 years old.

Mike Finch, company secretary of the River Stour Trust, said tree surgeons would begin felling on Monday.

“This is being done on a good neighbour basis, as it would affect the cricket bat industry,” he said. “The disease has been spotted and needs to be destroyed. We don’t have a choice.”

The affected riverside area will be replanted in the near future.