Residents and environmentalists near St Ives are calling for answers after several trees have been felled at the hotel hosting the G7 environmental summit.
Facebook group ‘Stop the Destruction of Cornwall Now’ reposted a comment from a Carbis Bay resident who had taken a photo of trees cut down at the Carbis Bay Hotel.
The post said: “The excitement of G7 coming to Cornwall and the hope world leaders will act to protect the earth is already turning into a bitter experience as Carbis Bay Hotel cut down lots of trees around the bay and successfully applied to have a badger sett removed…disgusting behaviour from a business which won an eco hotel award in 2019.”
The hotel won its accolade for commitment to sustainability and owner Stephen Baker said it showed the firm’s ‘dedication to the environment now and for generations to come’.
On the hotel’s website, it says ‘the family run estate has demonstrated its commitment to the environment in a number of ways’.
But angry residents have taken to social media to express their feelings saying the measures were ‘beyond awful’ and ‘absolute hypocrisy’ and calling for a protest during the G7 summit.
Lisa Arthur is a Green Party council candidate for St Ives West and Towednack and has been to the G7 Summit site.
She said: “The main thing is this woodland next to the sea is rare and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“It’s devastating, especially when we’re claiming a climate emergency with lots of projects to plant trees and then you see this.”
In 2018, Cornwall Council refused permission for a new spa building on the site with an outdoor pool and three lodges.
Officials said it would be a ‘discordant feature’ which would encroach onto undeveloped woodland and have ‘a detrimental impact on the unspoilt character of the continuous strip of greenfield’.
An application for tree works in March last year was withdrawn.
However, a certificate of lawfulness in relation to the 2018 application, for two dwellings, has been granted on the basis a of a ‘material commencement’ (a water pipe being laid) of the scheme.
Elise Langley, project manager at St Ives Community Orchard said the loss of the trees was upsetting.
“A lot of people objected to the 2018 planning application for the same area and we were really happy when it was refused,” she explained. “Suddenly, they’re bulldozing and chainsawing trees. We checked with town councillors and planning officials and one person said it is understood the ground is to be used for pods for the G7.
“It’s frustrating to think the hotel talks about its eco credentials but at the same time there is all this felling of trees.”
Resident and eco campaigner Rupert Manley echoed Elise’s concerns saying: “It’s outrageous and goes against all the ethos of sustainability.
“Beaches and woodlands are finite resources and it’s really hard to see something like this destroying that natural beauty.
“What we need to establish is what communication has happened to sanction this work. Is it essential for the G7 to proceed and if it’s not an essential component or established before the meeting, was agreed to then this is completely outrageous.”
A spokesperson for Carbis Bay Hotel said: “We appreciate our passion and commitment to the environment are shared by many, and would like to address the misunderstanding on social media, and reassure our guests and neighbours about the area we are working on at the moment.
“Part of our long-standing plans for the estate included clearing a small self-seeded scrubland area to the side of the hotel, and work on this area started several years ago.
“We can confirm this was not ancient woodland and there are no badger setts on this piece of land. The works currently underway across the site are part of longstanding improvements to the facilities at Carbis Bay Estate, which will also support hosting the G7 Summit in June. The due planning process is being followed, and we are in touch with the council.
“We are working closely with a local landscaping team to increase planting in this area replacing the scrubland with a plethora of trees and plants more suited to the coastal environment.
“The South West Coast Path is fully open and there are no plans for this to be re-routed. Our commitment to this important route through the estate includes the upgrading of the existing surface to improve access and safe passage to the beach.”