AT this time, we are being urged to plant more trees for environmental reasons and to appreciate the value of trees for the nation’s health and well-being. It is therefore very disappointing indeed to witness the wanton destruction of about 20 hybrid poplar trees at the north end of the Otley Rugby Club site. These trees were planted several decades ago, in order to prevent the rugby balls from going outside the grounds. They were very fine, healthy trees. They were also beautiful trees, especially when the leaves ‘shook’ in the wind.

At the end of 2019, efforts were made to draw the attention of local and City Councillors, Leeds City Council Officers and representatives of local wildlife groups to the possible effect on the trees of the sale of the Rugby Club site to developers.

Misleading information that the trees were in the Otley Conservation Area and therefore did not need Tree Preservation Orders was received in November 2019. As a result, no further action was taken. Now it seems that the trees are not in the Conservation Area and there is nothing to be done to prevent the loss of this piece of Otley’s wildlife habitat, which formed a ‘corridor’ linking the town centre and Gallows Hill Nature Reserve, and was both a feeding place for bats and a roosting place for numerous small birds.

This has been a sad week for the people of Otley and their environment.

‘Nature is being destroyed by humans at a rate never seen before’. Thursday 10th September 2020. Report from the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Hazel Costello

Mill Avenue


Photographs show trees not yet felled, stump of tree being felled and remains of those already felled. At least two thirds of each tree has been removed along with nearly all the branches and foliage.