RHS Garden Wisley and over 500 of its important trees under threat from Highways England M25/A3 Plans
- Proposals to widen the A3 for M25 junction 10 improvements include plans that threaten the future of RHS Garden Wisley
- Of two options being considered by Highways England, one would see over 500 trees and their wildlife’s habitat destroyed at the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden
- A number of historic trees that are over 100 years old, and have centuries more to live, could be eliminated to build a road with a design life of just fifteen years
- Trees that would be lost include five cultivars that are extremely rare and are identified as threatened and endangered in cultivation, as well as magnificent giant redwood trees
- RHS calls for Highways England to choose the plan that does not grab over 10,000 sq. metres of the Grade II* listed garden and provides better long term access to Wisley’s 120 year old garden with 1.2m visitors a year
- Air pollution and noise pollution would increase at Wisley with land grab
- Alan Titchmarsh calls for UK’s 27 million army of gardeners to stand together and protect Wisley from the ultimate garden grab
One of the UK’s most loved and horticulturally important gardens is under threat from Highways England plans to widen the A3 in what could be the ultimate garden grab.
RHS Garden Wisley, a Grade II* listed garden*, could have over 10,000 sq. metres of woodland grabbed and over 500 trees destroyed, including one planted by The Queen to mark her Silver Jubilee, if one of Highways England’s plans is developed.
The RHS estimates that the 500 threatened trees help to negate the emissions of 19,000 cars each year**.
There are currently two options available to Highways England to widen the A3: one on the east side of the A3 and one on the west. The RHS has carried out expert highway studies and is calling on the Government Agency to choose the east option, which does not grab woodland from the Garden, would not fell any of these important trees and would better improve road access to Wisley, which welcomes 1.2 million visitors a year.
Irreplaceable historic trees that are over 100 years old could be eliminated for a short-sighted road improvement scheme, which would increase air pollution and destroy the habitats of a wide range of wildlife, including birds, moths, badgers, beetles and moles.
Losing the natural barrier of trees on Wisley’s boundary would be visually devastating and also dramatically increase noise pollution, which would impact negatively on the enjoyment of the garden as a peaceful place to escape, relax and be inspired.
Important trees that would be lost forever include ‘The Queen’s Tree’, planted by the RHS’ Patron Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Silver Jubilee and a number of trees that are rare in cultivation. Five trees are identified as threatened and endangered in cultivation by Plant Heritage’s Threatened Plants Project*** .
Excellent specimens of giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) would also be at risk. Their loss would compromise the designed landscape of Wisley, as well as altering the skyline of the Surrey landscape.
Alan Titchmarsh, RHS Ambassador, says: “This potential garden grabbing plan would be another unacceptable example of this government’s poor perception of horticulture and lack of appreciation of the vital role that plants play for the environment, for the nation’s health and well-being and for the UK economy.
“Wisley is the UK’s centre of excellence for horticulture and horticultural science and helps millions of people to garden and grow plants. I’m calling on the UK’s army of 27 million gardeners to make it known that a disregard for these important trees and lack of appreciation of the national importance of this garden would not be acceptable if the short sighted and environmentally damaging option was chosen. We must stand together and protect our gardens.”
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says: “It would be criminal for this irreplaceable woodland to be lost when another viable plan would avoid cutting down these century old trees and still meet the important need to widen the A3.
“We’re currently investing over £70 million into RHS Garden Wisley in horticulture, new laboratories, learning buildings and visitor facilities, making the garden an even more important centre for science, and a better place to visit.
“The role that these trees play in mitigating pollution, giving a home to wildlife and providing a visual and noise barrier to preserve the peace and productivity of the garden cannot, and must not, be underestimated.”
Widening the A3 is part of the Highways England’s plans to improve Junction 10 of the M25 as well as the A3 stretch of road. The RHS preference is that the A3 is widened on the east side, so that these 500 important trees would not be destroyed. Access to RHS Garden Wisley would also be improved if the east side of the A3 was widened.****