Belfast people ‘disappointed’ after council remove 200m of hawthorn trees during bird nesting season

Belfast people ‘disappointed’ after council remove 200m of hawthorn trees during bird nesting season

People in south and east Belfast are in “disappointment” after nearly 200 meters of native hawthorn trees were removed during the bird’s nesting season.

Green Party councilor Brian Smith has reported “damage” to public land at the hands of Belfast City Council to police.

He says it highlights the need for an independent environmental agency to hold officials accountable.

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An East Belfast representative told Belfast Live: “I have been flooded with complaints from residents overnight about this.

“There is almost a sense of despair and anger that accompanies the wider issue of felling trees. People think there is no consultation, no one knows what is going on.

“People are watching it and it looks awful.

“As a Green, I feel there has been great reputation damage here. We are the custodians of this city.

“I have reported this to the PSNI as a potential wildlife crime – I particularly want clarity on the matter of consensus to disturb breeding birds. It is not just about you that you are not allowed to nest – You are also not allowed to harass you on, inside or near those sites.

He said, “We need clarity here. I am angry. I am very angry over this because something has happened and there is no communication.

“It is a beautiful site. It is one of the most important sites in South and East Belfast in terms of biodiversity and in the last 48 hours people have been there and just seen the clearance. I have talked to many people and they are disappointed. are and are worried.

“My understanding is that this was the initial work done to expand the greenway. As councilors we had no advance knowledge – nothing.

“What I am being told is a proper assessment and investigation done by the relevant people to ensure that there is no disruption to the nesting sites. But I have still given a report to the PSNI.

“We are seeking assurance that there will be no further work. We are going to meet officials on site to make sure there are lessons here.

“This is a community that had to deal with the falling trees of Lagna and a little trauma. People are feeling helpless.

“I think there is a disconnect and lack of communication between the council and the people. The public is years ahead of the council and organizations like the DFI on their expectations of environmentalism.

“People are moving fast and the basic level is that organizations like councils, DFIs and government bodies say, ‘We plan to work and this is what we are doing’.

“They are saying there is no disruption, but I have asked PSNI to investigate. They are engaging a wildlife conservation officer and I have asked for an independent inquiry.

Trees removed from above bluebells

“If people think giant organizations can go ahead and do their job, how can you expect to buy into environmentalism, sustainability, and biodiversity?

“This is a highly responsive site and it is already working with Hampton Applications and it is seriously concerned about a lot of locals.

“It is an area of ​​outstanding natural beauty and one of eight woodlands left in this part of the city and here we are doing business as usual when this city council has already declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

“How do you change that? I’m really angry here at my lack of foresight.

“Government bodies need to interact with citizens.”

All scrub cutting, hedge cutting, laying and coping operations are banned by DAERA during the bird’s nesting season – which is from March 1 to August 31 – to avoid harm to the birds, their nests and eggs .

Any such act can be considered a criminal offense under the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985.

A Save Our Lagan spokesperson said the recent removal of trees in Belfast resulted in the loss of 6m to 200m of mature, dense and bird and insect-rich hedgerows destroyed along the lagan in an “Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty” is”.

Since trees have been cut down in May, they have questioned whether it is a “crime”?

“Two sections of Hampton Park development already under pressure have been removed, possibly to link Galvally and Annadale Avenues to the ‘Greenway’,” he said.

“The damage to the Galvali site is particularly provocative because the shavings from the destroyed trees were scattered over the bluebell patch.”

Bluebells are protected in Northern Ireland through the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

A statement from Belfast City Council said: “The council is currently progressing plans for Phase 2 of the Lagaan Gateway project, building on the success of Phase 1, which includes a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, which will serve as the Stranmilis. This next phase will develop additional connections from Lagan Lands East to Belvoir Forest Park in Annadale, to encourage and enable more sustainable travel.

“Site investigation works were planned at Lagan Lands East to inform the final designs for Phase 2. Unfortunately, to enable these necessary works, they had to be built on a small stretch of Hedgerow. The field needed to be removed from.

“These plans were developed with a certified ecologist, and inspected, in accordance with relevant legislation, to ensure that there were no active nests within the small area of ​​the hedgerow that have been removed.

“The council has agreed to stop planned site investigation works to further engage around this project.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police received information about the cutting of trees in the Annadale Embankment area of ​​south Belfast this afternoon (Friday 13 May). Inquiries are ongoing.”

Read more:No environmental impact assessment on felling of trees along the lagan

Read more: Residents ‘will work in shifts’ protesting tree removal in Belfast

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