RAGING residents have reacted with fresh outrage at news 52 trees will be felled in a city centre park during building work.
The Evening News reported yesterday how the cull in Princes Street Gardens is part of landscaping works and an extension at Scottish National Gallery backed by the council.
Gallery bosses said they were in keeping with the original vision for the park and vowed to replant 22 trees next spring - but this did little to dampen readers’ fury.
Kathy Grant posted online : “Edinburgh City Council did ye ever think to ASK the people of Edinburgh if they wanted this or do you just bow to your own tune, this is an outrage.”
And Kimberlee Gally added: “Absolute disgrace! When the council keep going on about emissions and yet cut down so many trees in a high polluted area! Never mind the beauty and history!”
Some even took to trolling the council after it tweeted for feedback and suggestions of what residents wanted to see in the Capital.
“I’d like some nice mature trees on Princess street gardens please,” replied Pete Harris. And another added: “Stop cutting down trees!”
Plans were agreed in June to create a terrace and new public space on the Princes Street/Mound level of the gallery as well as better access for the public.
The plans included changes to the gardens to further tackle access requirements and also achieve improvements in views between the gardens and the adjoining street.
Councillors raised concerns about trees being removed from Princes Street Gardens as part of these proposals.
Cllr Alex Staniforth said: “There’s a very significant reduction in the number of trees on the site. “Citywide, we are seeing our stocks dwindle.
“There are fewer trees in the city than there were five years ago and we should look to reverse that.”
And now as work to cut down the trees has started, members of the public have reacted to the sight of the shorn tree stumps, lining the pathway from the gallery back to the Scott Monument.
Gillian Sproule said: “In the same week we’ve been told the world has only 12 years to stem climate change, the City of Edinburgh Council decide to cut down even more trees? Outrageous!”
Council landscapers said research into the historic design demonstrated the area warranted “larger oaks and limes” more appropriate to the landscape.
They said they were “quite comfortable” with the numbers and types of trees the developers would be putting back into the gardens.
Landscape architect Julie Waldron added: “If we were to put them all back the views, not now but in the future, might again become quite enclosed. We’re trying to open them up.”
The National Galleries is working with the council to remove the trees. A spokesman sad: “This will enable us to create a new, sloped path that will make the gardens and gallery fully accessible to people with mobility impairments, prams and pushchairs. The reduction of the currently dense tree canopy will also recreate carefully framed views through the gardens to the Old Town. These views were part of the architect William Henry Playfair’s original vision for this world-famous location.
George Anderson, a spokemans for Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “The people of Edinburgh and its many visitors clearly cherish these gardens, and the trees are a huge part of the appeal.
“Urban trees give us more than simply their beauty, highly valuable though that is. They also remove pollutants from the air that we breathe, reduce flooding, deaden traffic noise and improve our physical and mental health. We want our planners to see city trees for what they are; a significant asset not a liability.”
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