I manage a commercial forest in west Wales. I have a large amount of willow stems and brash felled onto the access track. It is dry and I hoped to get it chipped and removed.

The track is made of stone and, having seen lots of grab-fed lorry-mounted chippers on display at various forestry shows, I thought that chipping on my site might be two hours’ work for such a machine.

However, trying to find any contractor prepared to do the work has proved impossible.

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One contractor wanted to send a team to hand feed all the stems and brash through a standard towed chipper, which is of course uncommercial.

Are there any contractors operating in west Wales that chip brash commercially using lorry-mounted chippers, or are these machines just for forestry shows? As it is, a couple of local lads have offered to stack and burn the willow in the summer but that seems such a waste of resource. If anyone can help, please pass on my contact details.
Simon Duncan

It’s a devil’s own job trying to identify an English Member of Parliament with an independent interest in forestry or arb, but fortune struck when the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, came out of the woods. 

Trying to steady nerves at a Tory Party Spring Conference ahead of local elections, he praised the “calm suburbia of Hertfordshire”, home to his own Hertsmere constituency, and vowed to defend the “privet hedges of a free people”. 

The Hertsmere constituency, which includes Borehamwood/Elstree and Potters Bar, and the wider county of Hertfordshire, is blessed with well-qualified and experienced arborists who read essentialARB (and Forestry Journal). As such, there is no need for householders to allow government ministers armed with hedge cutters anywhere near their prized hedges.

I live in Hertsmere, but don’t knock on my door armed with a brand-new electric hedge-cutter Mr Dowden, because I am a proud owner of a Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana Ellwoodii hedge planted in 1990, managed by a highly skilled arborist who has featured in essentialARB (and Forestry Journal) on many occasions over the years. The current crop of ministers can’t even run their own departments so I am certainly not going to let them loose on my hedge, privet or otherwise.

Forestry Journal: Oliver DowdenOliver Dowden

My neighbours have a privet hedge. Nice people with a young family and a hefty mortgage that went through the roof after Penguin and the Joker mugged the economy.

Batman armed with a hedge trimmer is not going to cut the mustard, let alone the privet hedge. If I were you, I wouldn’t dare knock on their door and offer to “defend” the privet hedge, Mr Dowden.
Dr Terry Mabbett