Following reports of dangerous trees along a section of the towpath (between Moncktons Lane and Gibraltar House in Maidstone, as the Medway borders Ringlestone), an Inspection of the area has revealed that almost 200 Ash trees have been affected by ash die back with some leaning and at immediate risk of falling over the path. The recommendation is that the section of the path be closed without delay until the trees can be felled.
Ian Chittenden, Lib Dem County Councillor for Maidstone North East commented, "This could not have come at a worst time with the wish to increase active travel by expanding walking and cycling routes. However, the need to maintain safety and to consider legal restrictions relating to local wildlife has to take priority over other matters."
A legal closure and advisory notes are being put in place and fencing will be erected at each end of the affected area.
Discussions are ongoing with the Landowner and consents will need to be obtained from the Environment Agency because of the risk of trees falling in the river. There is also a major concern because of the strict rules relating to the removal of trees during what is the bird nesting and bat maternity roosting season. It is possible that the work may not be able to be carried out until mid or late summer, but we will keep you advised once officers have completed their investigations.