200 millennium trees face axe over sewage risks

Rev Malcolm Muir has hit out at the council. Picture: Scott Louden
Rev Malcolm Muir has hit out at the council. Picture: Scott Louden
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A WOOD planted to mark the millennium is to be lopped down – sparking an angry community campaign to save the 200 trees.

The birch canopy at Magdalene Glen, Craigmillar, is for the axe after roots pierced a sewage pipe.

Council lumberjacks will defy warnings from wildlife watchdogs who claim tree felling could disturb the bird breeding season, while the News can reveal fuming residents have branded the plans “vandalism”.

Reverend Malcolm Muir, a semi-retired minister at Newbattle Parish Church, who is spearheading a crusade to save the trees, said he would contact the police if officials ploughed on with plans to clear the woodland next Wednesday.

Rev Muir said the council should not be destroying the thriving healthy trees just years after they were introduced.

“If they turn up on the Wednesday morning, I will be there and I’ll also phone the wildlife people and the police. It will be a 999 call,” he said.

The drama was sparked when Scottish Water asked the city council to remove trees within 12 metres of the sewer in February. But now environment officials also plan to lop down woodland outwith this area due to concerns rogue roots will put users of a nearby cycle path in danger.

“They are saying it’s for safety reasons, but that just doesn’t stand up,” Rev Muir added. “In the storms we have had over the last seven years not one tree has fallen down. They are planning to replace it with a wild meadow, but that will only attract rats and mice. This to me is an act of council vandalism.”

A council spokeswoman said a survey of the trees carried out by the East Neighbourhood Parks Manager found no nesting birds.

She added: “We have also invited Mr Muir and the RSPB to the site to assess the situation.”

Scottish Water said the roots have caused damage to the main trunk sewer which runs parallel to the Niddrie Burn. A spokesman said they “could pollute the watercourse if no action is taken to remove the trees”.

The RSPB said they would advise “any tree felling work be carried out outwith the breeding season between March 1 and August 31” but added “this is not a legal requirement”.

The Magdalene Glen millennium woodland was planted after the council applied for funding from the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust in 1996 in an attempt to increase the number of trees in the Capital. More than 100,000 were planted in the Craigmillar area.