Posted March 2016 written by Tony Fry

Well! What a difference a few months makes. You may recall than in the Winter edition of the Camerton Parish News I was talking about the work we were planning for an improved access to the Batch at the eastern end off Bridge Pace Road. This has now been rescheduled due to the development of our other major project of completing the original development of the Batch. This involves felling the majority of the fir trees and replanting with more indigenous broad leaf trees and shrubs, as was achieved in the first development phase on the western area of the batch. It was always our intent to undertake this work whilst the fir trees had a timber resale value. We now have a prospective buyer for timber and sufficient funds to undertake the work.
The harvesting report covering the volume and number of trees and outline of the felling requirements was produced a year ago. We now have the required felling licence from the Forestry Commission and agreements from B&NES and Camerton Parish Councils and a contractor to undertake the felling work. The contractor Simon Dakin is well known to us, and he is aware of the Nature Reserve implications, the main issue being too fell before the bird nesting period. Simon was also engaged as out forestry expert and was responsible for much of the work on the Batch over the last ten years or so. Those of you who know the Batch will be aware of the safety issues associated with this task, to that end we will have to declare some of the North and East areas of the batch out of bounds to the public whilst the work is in progress. This will last for about one month including the replanting work. The new broad leave stock will be Beach, Oak, Sycamore, Hazel and Holly together with a variety of shrubs. Unfortunately we will be unable to plant Ash trees due to the Ash dieback disease. (See note below). We are fortunate that the tree plant stock has be made available for the replanting free of charge by the Woodland Trust. Due to this work the footpath and steps maintenance will not be done until the felling work is completed and has been incorporated into the replanting and clear up activity after the felling. However those steps that fall outside the cordoned off area will be repaired earlier. We have been communicated by the Woodland Trust re Ash Dieback disease identification. When a tree does become infected, the disease often proves fatal over time. Experience in Europe has shown that the fungus can kill young ash trees quickly, but can take several years to kill mature Ash. Once infected, an Ash tree can show the following symptoms:

a. Dark lesions, which appear where the stem or branch join the trunk and around the base of dead shoots, are long, thin and diamond-like in shape.

b. The central vein of leaves which are usually pale can turn brown.

c. In more mature ash trees, it is common to notice dieback of twigs and branches in the crown, with denser growth below where new shoots have begun to re-grow.

d. Blackened dead leaves.

If you notice any of these features please let us know so we can report it We have also been talking to the Somerset Coal Canal Society re the canal in the Batch area covering its role in transporting coal from Old and New Pit collieries. They want to erect an illustrated information notice board in the vicinity of the batch and on the route of the canal tow path which is now designated as part of the Limestone Link public footpath. We fully support this as it will assist in providing information on the mining heritage of the parish.