NEWS AND VIEWS – Weybridge, Walton on Thames and Cobham, UK: This is a very disturbing story which directly impacts wildlife because trees are the homes of wildlife and, of course they provide a lot of pleasure to a lot of people in the community. So why is this person cutting down trees? The person, and I will presume that it is a male person, has to be mentally ill or grievously disgruntled and wants to get back at the community (see my assessment below). The community needs to come together en masse and find him. I would suggest putting up a network of camera traps in the area. These are cheap to buy at about £30 on Amazon and you could put up a hundred of them. They could be more or less invisible to this criminal. And they’d be a deterent. I’d advertise the fact that it is being done.
Police are, of course, investigating and we are told that they have stepped up their hunt for the “phantom lumberjack”. He has felled more than 50 trees in less than a month in what is described as an exclusive area for the rich and famous. Past celebrity residents of the area include Andy Murray, Ronnie Wood, Kate Winslet, Peter Crouch, Chris Tarrant and Gary Lineker.
The area is described as the “Britain’s Beverly Hills”. In all the culprit has chopped down up to 60 trees and many of them are more than 20 feet high. The photograph on this page is agonising. Surely someone can hear this happening? It happens at night. Chainsaws are noisy, very noisy. Why can’t somebody hear what is going on?
The police have urged local residents to keep an eye out for the criminal. Despite night-time patrols by the public and the police they have failed to find him. The public have formed a Facebook group: Elmbridge Tree Patrol. You can go to that page by clicking on this link.
Inspector Bert Dean, of Surrey police, said that the lumberjack was “mindless”, which he certainly is. Sometimes the felled trees obstruct roads. He said that it is incredibly sad. The Facebook page has 1000 members and it states: “As you all know there’s a maniac going around Weybridge, Walton on Thames and Cobham chopping down trees ruining the environment, ecosystem, habitat and making everyone upset. I have set up this group so we can all as a community volunteer to patrol the area at night.”
Idea: it would seem that the person who is doing this has an axe to grind because he is aggrieved by something that has happened in this particular community. He is getting back at the community. He wants to upset the community and he is succeeding. Perhaps he is a developer who lost a planning application because of protected trees. That I think is a good guess. If I’m correct then it might be a useful use of time to go down to the local authority offices and check the planning applications which have been rejected. I think that that would be a good starting point for the police.