Criticism of Mass Removal of Trees in East Cork

By Seamus Whelehan

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The mass removal of mature trees across South Cork housing estates and Municipal Parks, without notification or consultation with residents, has been roundly criticised.  Sinn Féin Cllr Danielle Twomey told Cork County Council that many of her constituents were concerned that trees in public spaces were being “removed on a mass scale” without informing the public.

She told Monday’s Sitting of the Southern Committee “people are worried why the trees are being removed, and they don’t know the reason because the Local Authority is not engaging with them.” The Midleton based Cllr had requested the number of trees felled since 2018, the reason for their removal, and Council’s plans to plant more trees.  In a written report, however, the Local Authority said it was not able to provide a precise figure of trees felled in the past 18 months.    They did say that almost 100 trees from housing estates in its southern division have been cut down since last year, following complaints from the public.

The East Cork Municipality accounted for half the trees felled by Council contractors, with the Cobh/Glanmire Municipality removing the least.  In a report to the Southern Committee Jim Molloy, one of the County’s top officials, said that 96 trees were removed from housing estates following complaints received from the public.   Mr Molloy, a senior official in the Council’s Operations and Rural Development Directorate said “trees are removed only as a last resort and are usually isolated trees that have become dangerous to property or public.”

46 Were removed from sites across the East Cork Municipality, 20 were felled in the Ballincollig Carrigaline Municipal district, 18 in Blarney Macroom, while Council staff removed just 6 in the Cobh Glanmire Municipality.  Fine Gael Cllr Anthony Barry said there should be a prohibited plant list for new housing developments, as Council is spending “substantial” amounts in cutting down and maintaining non-native species.  “There are totally inappropriate types of trees being put into estates. It becomes the problem of Council when the estate is taken in charge, as they must then pay to get them cut down and trimmed, and the costs associated with that are quite substantial.”

Independent Cllr Noel Collins said the health and climate benefits of trees should be considered by Council before they cut them down.  County Manager Declan Daly said “although there is no written policy in place in relation to trees taken out, it is the largely the practice of the Local Area Engineer to replace them.”  He said “Council will attempt to consult with residents if it’s a broad issue in an estate, but if it’s a particular issue with regard to the safety of a tree or how it will impact the community, it has to go and  there can’t be much discussion on that.”

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