CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect wildlife at Craighouse campus have turned to flower power to demonstrate against “unnecessary tree removals”.
The Friends of Craighouse scattered wildflower seeds on the sites cleared by developers to reinforce their commitment to protecting the wildlife and woodland.
The former Napier University campus is being transformed into a residential development by the Craighouse Partnership. The old university building will be redeveloped, while dozens of new modern flats and townhouses will be built on the surrounding parkland.
Campaigners have fought plans since the beginning, but earlier this year had to admit defeat when they withdrew their application for a judicial review as a result of growing legal complications and spiralling costs.
But despite this, the Friends of Craighouse said they wanted to prevent “further careless and pointless destruction of trees”.
Group spokeswoman Rosy Barnes said: “The wildflower seeds we scattered are all Scottish native species.
“It’s both a way of beautifying what has been spoiled and also a symbol of the community’s positive commitment to the site, now and in the future.”
Ms Barnes said the community had been shocked by the number of trees felled in recent weeks and criticised the council for not providing information.
“This is one of the most highly protected sites in Edinburgh and the council’s response has been woeful,” she said.
“We’ve seen a huge number of trees ripped out – and it’s clearly around the development areas, despite misleading signs saying it’s for thinning and control of invasive species.
“Taking so many trees out on the site in an area where there’s been severe flooding problems in recent years is increasing the risk in an unacceptable way.
“There is also concern about the lack of information about wildlife surveys and licences.”
A spokesman for Craighouse Limited, a company set up to hold the site for the Craighouse Partnership, said work had been “ongoing” to address planning conditions set out by the city council.
He said: “The tree removal works have included trees and smaller shrubs that needed to be removed as part of the development of the site. These allow repairs to the listed buildings and construction activity on those parts of the site where new homes are to be built and their removal was agreed as part of the planning consent.
“In addition, surveys carried out identified a number of mature trees that needed to be removed due to their poor condition.
“Ecologists were in attendance and measures were put in place to ensure the tree and shrub removal works had minimal impact on the badgers currently present in the site.
“Edinburgh City Council, Morningside Community Council and The Friends of Craiglockhart Woods and Nature Trail Group were notified and appropriate signs informing members of the public were placed on the site.”
He added: “Over 700 trees will be replanted as part of the proposals for Craighouse.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The Friends of Craighouse have raised a number of issues regarding activity on the site, and an enforcement investigation is currently under way.”