Homeowner loses bird droppings appeal

A HOMEOWNER who claimed bird droppings had turned his garden path into a “health hazard” has lost his bid to have an overhanging holly tree felled.

Laurence Cawley

A HOMEOWNER who claimed bird droppings had turned his garden path into a “health hazard” has lost his bid to have an overhanging holly tree felled.

Brian Weston, of Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds, sought permission to fell the holly tree and replace it with a Japanese cherry tree.

The pensioner said birds roosting in the tree had covered the pathway below with excrement, causing his wife to suffer two falls on the slippery footpath.

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But St Edmundsbury Borough Council turned down his bid because the protected tree was deemed valuable to the look of the area.

Mr Weston appealed and the Planning Inspectorate got its Arboricultural Inspector to investigate the matter.

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Mr Weston was yesterday unavailable for comment, but in his original application to the council he outlined his reasons for wanting to fell the holly.

He told the council: “It has become the overnight roosting location for a large number of pigeons whose excrement falls onto the footpath under the tree resulting in a very slippery path to exit the garden.

“My 74-year-old wife, who has had two falls on this section of the footpath due to the excrement, had a complete knee replacement operation in 2007, and is very worried about further falls due to the slippery excrement surface.

“It is also a health hazard to third parties visiting because of the amount of excrement that falls from the tree day and night.”

When the Planning Inspectorate's consultant, Brian Crane, visited the site he found evidence of bird fouling on the brick pathway.

However, Mr Crane upheld the council's original decision because of its “contribution to the landscape and amenity and character of the area”.

In his report, Mr Crane said the tree was “in good condition and appears to have a long, safe, useful life expectancy”.

“I found some evidence of bird fouling, close to the tree, on the brick paviour-faced path leading from the rear door of the house to the garden gate.

“In my view this did not seem excessive, nor did it appear to me to be a significant slip hazard. I saw no evidence of excessive pigeon numbers at the time of my visit. Whilst sympathetic to any difficulties the appellant's wife might have, I consider that they are made no more onerous due to the presence of the tree than they would be in other locations.”

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