It’s just another case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing and the people in the middle paying the bill. The crazy thing is that it’s not limited to the UK. Having grown up with our back garden facing a lovely wood where we played, plogged, snogged and generally made a nuisance of ourselves to the umpteen lonely couples (“ogging” is an old Yorkshire custom), I am, without being a “hugger”, very fond of trees.
30 years ago we bought 5 acres of farmland (wheat – just one solitary Elm) South of Rome, where I’ve since planted, all on my noddy own, about 1200 trees (sounds a lot but it isn’t really). In one of their regular bouts of tax hunting, the local council has now asked me for a rise in rates “because wooded land is more valuable than just common a garden arable stuff”. On the other hand the “Protezione Civile” (aka Rural Safety and Rescue Board), where, thanks to my Nat.Sec. duties I have a little sway, are actually financing people to plant trees in order to counter erosion and potential flooding. I am now, in a typical Italian fashion, trying to strike a 3 way deal.
Same thing happened in Austria, where the wife (my "Lady and Master" on all accounts) inherited a lovely little chalet on the edge of the woods, in front of a lake. We, naturally I thought, did not tear out the many tiny for trees that “wandered over” from the woods (wind, animals, me) and soon had a pleasant couple of acres of greenery. When we decided to sell, we got the unpleasant surprise that “owing to the increase in trees”, our plot had been “assimilated to the protective area – i.e. the wood” and no further building or expansion could be done on the place. Result: drop in the sales value of nearly 200%. All those years, though we’d been paying rates for “developable real estate”. Sorry, was the reply, no back dues can be considered.
I still love trees, but please do not link them with property, I'd simply blow a gaskit.
ps most of the data I have on fires (one of my lines of Business is Nat.Sec.) give them an even more idiotic cause: ground clearance in order to get better grass for sheep and/or other domestic animals. The second reason is willful arson, the third negligence (cigs, kids). Increasing land value is also amongst the reasons (see Austrian tale). In all cases we lose valuable trees, that have taken decades or more to grow and in a lot of cases, lives. No respect for nature or all the small animals that burn a horrible death (ever seen a flaming bid tryng to escape a fire?).
In Italy my political party is trying to push a law through to increase land control (videocams, sensors, staffing, a/c, helicopters) for fires, floods, earthquakes, the lot. If we win the elections it will go through.