ALONG with many of us, I read with interest of Ms Rebecca Pow's recent activity planting trees, not only for the good of our local environment, but also to honour the many Somerset men and women who died in the Great War 1914 - 1918.

Creating a lasting, living monument in this way is a lovely idea - don't get me wrong - but it should also be borne in mind that there has been a parallel 'tree' story current in our local media with a very different twist.

I refer to the sad fate of a traditional Somerset apple orchard which has been the unhappy subject of a planning dispute on the Bloor homes development site at Longforth Farm, Wellington.

Planning permission for new homes on the site was originally granted only on the understanding that the orchard would be preserved in its original state.

However, it was not long before Bloor Homes were seeking permission to transplant the trees to a different site on the estate and Taunton Deane Borough Council Planning office - not exactly renowned for its robust resistance to pressure from big developers' greedy demands - caved in and granted permission for this revised course of action. And then it was only a short matter of time before Bloor Homes reported that the trees - many of which are healthy and bearing large crops of fruit - were unfit to transplant and would have to be felled, which is where we are now.

Naturally, there has been outrage locally at this impasse, particularly from Wellington Transition Town who objected strongly to the planners about it, but given that all this is against a backdrop of it being well-known amongst large national developers that TDBC planning procedures are in disarray - witness the recent debacle at the Bagley Road site in Wellington, just this Summer with Gladman - frankly, all this is hardly surprising.

And, if you add to this lamentable state of affairs, a chronic lack of experienced local authority tree officers here in woefully cost-cutting, Conservative-controlled Somerset, then the irony of a situation where our Conservative MP supports a project conceived in good faith to commemorate our county's war dead, whilst her party colleagues in the local authority do little to defend a heritage woodland of another kind, is sadly regrettable.