Concerns have been raised to us with regards to the removal of trees at the Lochgelly Golf Course by the landowner Mr McPherson, with felling work started on the 21st March 2015, leaving the land and ecosystem which it supported, scarred.
Mr McPherson sought planning permission for the removal of some of the trees in November 2013 on the basis of;
They need to be felled to protect myself from liability and the public who walk along the tree line also members of the Lochgelly Club who complain when trees and large branches blow down in high winds.
Urgent action is required to avoid serious injury.
The application to remove 13 trees (13/03668/TPO) was approved, granting permission to remove 13 trees, with conditions attached. The permissions granted were;
- Fell 2 sycamores – T2 & T6
- Fell 11 beech – T3, T4, T5, T14, T15, T16, T17, T18, T23 T24
- Fell 1 beech – T21 this tree has recently split at the fork, losing half the crown
The following conditions were attached to the approval decision;
- each tree shall be replace on a 2:1 basis with a ‘feathered whips’ with a minimum height of 1m and be planted within one month of the trees being felled or at the start of the next planting season (whichever is sooner). Please advise of the felling date.
- The newly planted trees should have suitable staking, protection and mulching for at least the first 36 months after planting.
- The plant selection, planting and aftercare should be carried out to the minimum standards defined in the British Standard 3936 Part 1 – ‘Specification for Trees and Shrubs’ and the Horticultural Trades Association – ‘National Plant Specification’ and ‘Handling and Establishing Landscape Plants’
- All works to trees should comply with British Standard 3998 2012 Tree works Recommendations
The map extract below highlights the layout of the trees and we have marked in black the trees that were granted permission for removal.
Three main cluster of trees were to remain, but these have also been removed, except for T1, with no indication on the planning portal, if the decision to remove the additional trees was approved. We also note that there is currently a second application pending (14/02779/TPO) for the removal of 5 beech trees, however this application has still to be determined.
We have sought advice from Fife Council planning department but as of writing this article, we have received no response.
The area of the land which the trees formed a boundary, are referred to in the Adopted Mid-Fife Local Plan as suitable for housing (Local Plan ref: LGY06), with the estimated capacity set at 60 homes. The land has previously been highlighted for sale, for development by McCrae & McCrae Ltd on behalf of Mr McPherson;
(layout for previous (now withdrawn) detailed planning application for 77 houses and 16 flats) Ref 08/01551/WFUL Fife Council Website: http://planning.fife.gov.uk/online/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=K1GYMLHF03700
OFFERS OVER £200,000 PER ACRE
The full document can be accessed at: http://www.mccraemccrae.co.uk/documents/finalpartics_000.pdf
It is estimated that the development area is worth a minimum of £1,622,000, and with no trees restricting development plans, this can make the land more attractive to prospective developers.
Trees provide a very valuable role in protecting ecosystems and the well being of the local environment and human health, are once more being removed in the Lochgelly area. The importance of trees are recognised by Fife Council and the Scottish Government, with Fife Council stating in the ‘Trees and Development – Planning Customer Guidelines‘;
Trees are a valuable asset Trees remain integral to our well-being. This can be the case in and around our towns and cities, where populations and pressure from development are greatest. Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) (Consultative Draft) states in paragraph 110 that Trees, woodland and hedgerows which make a significant contribution to landscape character and quality should be protected from adverse impacts resulting from development.
As they grow, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and lock up that carbon, reducing the impact of carbon emissions. Trees also absorb airborne pollutants and help precipitate particulates from the local environment. Trees can also help reduce temperature extremes, reducing localised summer temperatures by as much as 3 – 4°C. Conversely, trees can also reduce local extremes of cold by up to 2 – 3°C.
Woodlands are a priority habitat identified in Fife’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan. Street trees and garden trees can form an urban woodland, providing a valuable habitat network for wildlife, and adding to Fife’s biodiversity. As part of the implementation of Fife’s Core Paths Plan, the Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan and Fife’s Green Space Strategy, Fife Council will safeguard existing trees and woodlands, and seek to increase the area of woodland cover in Fife, in line with the Scottish Forestry Strategy, prepared by Forestry Commission Scotland. This will contribute to the development of a multi purpose green network, not only supporting biodiversity, but providing opportunities for active travel and recreation for both residents and visitors.
The environmental benefits of trees within the urban environment are already well documented, but they also contribute at a social level as well, playing a vital role in forming the character and identity of an area itself, and providing a positive focus with which communities can engage. Trees are a vital component of natural green space, which has been shown to have a positive impact on physical and mental health at both the individual and the community level. An urban environment might therefore be seen to be all the poorer without trees. (The Forestry Commission in the urban environment 2008).
The gallery below, captured by one of our volunteers previously, highlight the area, as it used to be before the tree felling;
Under the planning conditions granted for the felling of 13 trees, the landowner is required to plant on a 2:1 basis with ‘feathered whips’ at a minimum height of 1m, to be planted within one month of the trees being felled.