Does Council care enough about trees?

Dear Spurtle 

Perhaps you’ve already heard about the trees that have gone from Blenheim Place? 

All the trees have been removed from the narrow strip of land between Greenside Church and 12 Blenheim Place (a recently renovated office building that owns the land). This area has been wooded since at least 1851. 

Until last month, the strip included three large trees: two elms (height 23 and 20 metres, diameters 780 and 350mm) and a sycamore (height 15 metres, diameter 410), together with 20-odd small trees and shrubs.

The reasons given had to do with public safety. ‘Due to proximity to retaining wall, recommendation is to remove this tree for public safety reasons’; ‘Due to proximity to wall/stairs, recommendation is to remove this tree for public safety’.

The application for tree removal was made to the Council on 29 September 2017 and approved on 28 November 2017 (17/04500/TCO) by Delegated Decision.

I don’t understand the public-safety issue as (with the exception of a dead rowan) the trees were healthy, and there were no protective barriers or supports etc. around them. If every large tree near a wall or stairs in Edinburgh were regarded as a safety issue, we’d lose a considerable amount of our greenery.

Unfortunately, the Council has already removed (by my reckoning) about 80 trees from Picardy Place and Leith Walk since 2012 (without replacing any of them), so greenery doesn’t seem to enjoy a high priority.

Simon Holledge

[Image top-right: Ed Meskens, Wikimedia Commons