CITY residents horrified at the cull of more than 50 mature trees in Princes Street Gardens have been urged not to let the same thing happen at Meadowbank.
Campaigners said plans to axe up to 166 trees as part of the redevelopment of the stadium site would make the dramatic felling in the city centre look “small scale” in comparison.
The cull in Princes Street Gardens, carried out as part of a project to create a new terrace and entrance at the Scottish National Gallery, provoked outrage last week, with residents complaining of “sheer destruction” and a former gardener labelling the move “environmental vandalism”.
Sixty-one of the 63 trees on the sports centre site at Meadowbank are due to be axed as part of the council’s plans and campaigners fear more than 100 more on the wider site could also be at risk.
Heather Peacock, of the Save Meadowbank campaign, said: “There was no need to destroy so many trees in Princes Street Gardens and there is similarly no need to do likewise at Meadowbank, especially when the council’s own planning sub-committee has ruled no work should take place on any part of the Meadowbank site until a full consultation has taken place and a masterplan prepared for the entire site.
“The cull at Meadowbank will make the destruction in Princes Street Gardens look small scale in comparison.”
And she urged people to sign the petition – which already has over 2000 signatures – to save the trees.
Simone Clarke, from the separate group Save Meadowbank Trees, said most of the 61 trees due to be felled were on the grassy mounds right in front of the stadium.
“And they are replacing them with 41 trees, so that’s a net loss of 20,” said Ms Clarke.
“In their own tree policy, the council says every mature tree they take out should be replaced with 40 trees. We are writing to the council to say we would like them to do that please.”
She said three of the trees scheduled for the axe were rare Wheatley elms which cannot be replaced.
A submission from the council’s own forestry division earlier this year referred to the recommended removal of 13 Wheatley elms from the site as “an outrageous act”, pointing out only a few hundred survived around the world.
The submission also said the loss of so many trees would be “in direction contradiction to” the council’s action plan on trees.
A council spokeswoman said planning consent had been given for the removal of 61 trees, including three Wheatley elms.
She described the campaigners’ figure of 166 as “speculative” since no decision had yet been made about the wider site.
The spokeswoman said: “During the redevelopment of Meadowbank Sports Centre, the council will preserve existing trees as far as possible and plant new ones where required.
“As with any major redevelopment in the city, the project requires a tree assessment to be carried out and to adhere to any decisions made during the planning process.”