Six thousand trees along a British road were cut down to prevent them from falling into the road, as well as to discourage strangers from meeting in the area for sex, known in British slang as dogging.
After conducting a health and safety survey, United Utilities, a United Kingdom utility company, cleared the 12 hectare area of the woods. The cleared strip runs 20 meters inward from the A666, called the Devil’s Highway. United Utilities claims the trees were old and hazardous, while police officials have reportedly confirmed that reducing dogging was also a factor.
Sergeant Mark Wilson of Darwen Police is grateful, “[Dogging]’s an ongoing problem and very worrying for members of the public.” Ward Councillor Jean Rigby agrees, “I'm more than happy this is being carried out and it has a double whammy in terms of the sexual behavior. I've heard anecdotally that since the trees have been cleared it's quietened down a lot.”
Environmentalist Allistair Foster feels otherwise, “It is such a terrible thing to do. Old trees do not just fall down. What next, chop down 300-year-old oak trees in case they suddenly fall over one day? And to do it to reduce people having sex in the woods is farcical.”
Chief Executive of the Taxpayer’s Alliance Matthew Elliott adds, “It's awful that a public green space, an asset to the local community, has been destroyed mindlessly. If the law was enforced properly then there would be no need to chop down these trees.”
The trees, planted after World War II, will be replaced with broad-leaf trees. United Utilities emphasizes that it went through legal proceedings to clear the trees, and that park rangers made sure to clear the area outside of bird-breeding season to minimize environmental influence.
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