OLDHAM’S first tree champion has been labelled a ‘hypocrite’ after voting in favour of a new housing scheme which protestors say will destroy a picturesque Saddleworth valley.
In his new role, Cllr George Hulme, who sits on both Oldham and Saddleworth Parish councils, has been tasked with improving standards on tree protection and increasing planting rates across the borough.
“Residents in Saddleworth like me know exactly how important it is we balance the need for homes and jobs with protection for our natural environment, as well as taking opportunities to plant trees and create new green spaces wherever possible,” he told the Independent.
“What’s often lost in debate about controversial planning decisions is that when a number of mature trees are cut down by private developers, like in Knowls Lane, they will be replaced at a ratio of at least three to one.
“As a community we all have a part to play in protecting our natural environment and finding opportunities to increase the number of trees in the borough.
“If you have any ideas or know of an area that could benefit from the addition of trees, please get in touch.
“Saddleworth is rightly known for its amazing environment. Having an honest conversation and taking shared responsibility is the best way to keep it and make it even better.”
However, Cllr Hulme’s new role has upset Save Our Valleys campaign group and residents who have raised £20,000 to fund a legal challenge to development at Knowls Lane.
He was accused of hypocrisy on social media and Paul Errock, a committee member of Save our Valleys, said: “The irony is staggering. God help us all if he is our tree champion.
“He voted for the largest culling of trees in any ward of Saddleworth in the last four decades.”
In another post he added: “Cllr Hulme voted to allow 256 houses to be built on the Knowls Lane site and destroy that beautiful valley, including 1,000 trees and wildlife. Hypocrite!”
But Cllr Hulme asserted: “No houses will be built on the woods. The link road will go through a small area of the woods and the vast majority of trees in the woods will be retained. Any trees of ecological value at the link road site will be retained.
“I will do what I can in my new role to ensure this stipulation is kept to. And we have a committed team in the council determined to protect our trees and find ways to plant more.”
Further information about the Charter for Trees, Woods and People can be found online at: treecharter.uk