‘Shock’ as trees cut down in Newcastle

‘Shock’ as trees cut down in Newcastle

24 June 2020

RESIDENTS in Newcastle are reported to have been left “shocked and bemused” after four trees were cut down in the Mourne Rise area last week.

Contractors for the Housing Executive cut down the healthy trees, leaving residents and one local politician annoyed that they were not made aware of the work prior to it taking place.

Housing officials said the work was necessary as overgrown roots posed a future danger to kerbs and the road infrastructure, including street lighting.

Insisting that removing the trees was “essential”, the Housing Executive agreed to leave a number of trees which would be pruned.

Concerned residents took to social media to vent their anger about the tree felling with one man describing their removal as tantamount to the “destruction of the environment” and asking why people had not been consulted.

“The trees have been in place for over 30 years and while it has been claimed that they were only being trimmed, the fact is that they were chopped to the ground,” he declared.

Another lady questioned the decision to fell the trees, explaining that it was her understanding that such a course of action is only taken if they are in a dangerous condition, with another concerned resident describing the tree felling as “disgusting”.

She said it was “mind boggling” that trees which are needed to help save the planet are being chopped down, vowing to plant some of her own to replace those lost at Mourne Rise.

Mournes councillor Willie Clarke said residents were left “shocked and bemused” after workmen started cutting down the trees, without prior consultation with anyone, including elected representatives.

He has also asked housing officials to replace the trees felled last week.

Cllr Clarke declared: “I knew nothing about the trees being cut down and halted the work along with residents as soon as I found out what was happening. I put a stop to it so I could inquire exactly what was happening.”

Cllr Clarke confirmed that he spoke with a senior Housing Executive official when it was explained to him that removing the trees was part of “essential surgery” to improve those at Mourne Rise.

“I was informed that there was a danger that trees with overgrown roots in the future would damage the kerbs and road infrastructure and had to removed,” he explained.

“Residents and I secured a compromise that the remainder of the trees would be pruned and one other could be removed as it was damaged.”

Cllr Clarke said he also welcomes the fact residents felt a great ownership of the trees at Mourne Rise and were empowered to protect them.

He said he recently lobbied Newry Mourne and Down Council to adopt a tree strategy, explaining that such a course of action was particularly important as communities mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Cllr Clarke added: “At this time it is becoming increasingly important that we plant more trees as we know that they absorb carbon dioxide and provide protection from the extremes of heat and cold.

“Trees also help enhance areas and play an essential role in relation to helping with flood management measures.”