Scottish Water’s plan to fell their trees on Buckstone Terrace and replant the area.

Scottish Water have been in touch to say they plan to fell their trees on Buckstone Terrace and then replant the area. Local residents have been issued letters (copy at the bottom of this post) explaining that this is due to safety concerns.

These trees are not potected (i.e. the area on the above map is not shaded) so Scottish Water do not need planning permission from the Council (I am waiting on this being confirmed).

I put a number of questions to Scottish Water on the issue:

Me: When will the replacement trees be planted?
Scottish Water: The best time for tree planting is late autumn, so subject to approval from Forestry Scotland we would plan to remove the remaining conifer trees around Sept and we will plant new trees shortly after this (Oct/Nov) this year.

Me: Will the trees be checked for nesting birds? What will happen if any are found?
Scottish Water: The trees have been checked for nesting birds this morning (20/04/20) by our ecologist. I am advised that no nests were found in the 11 trees concerned.

Me: Are there any plans to remove litter etc from the woodland?
Scottish Water: I’m presuming you mean litter like cans, bottles, crisp packet type litter. In which case, yes, we will arrange a litter clear up when the Covid-10 restrictions are eased.

I now have the safety audit and tree inspection that was undertaken on Scottish Water’s “woodland plantation”. Scottish Water provided the report along with this comment:

“I would like to reassure you and the local community that Scottish Water have no intention of developing this part of the site and we will be replacing the trees we are removing by replanting across the area of woodland. We will develop a plan for this in conjunction with Scottish Forestry and share these plans with the community. I’d like to thank you for sharing information with the local community on Facebook and helping us keep people informed.”

Reading the report, it is clear that eleven trees were recommended for urgent removal on safety grounds. The report says “the plantation as a whole has limited future potential and is becoming an increasing liability to the site. It is recommended that this be removed in its entirety within 12 months” and “replanted with a range of more suitable species”.

The report points out that the trees are within “striking distance” of Scottish Water’s offices and “the trees are of large size and stature and have the capacity to cause significant damage or injury should they collapse onto a target. The conifers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to windblow given their age, height and growing environment”.

The report highlights that in March 2020 a single tree on the eastern edge of the woodland “uprooted and fell towards the office building, striking and damaging the outer cladding above the cafeteria”. Examination of the stump did not reveal any indication of a problem and the tree appeared to have been healthy, but it was noted the ground conditions allowed only shallow rooting.

The report states that given the size of the trees and close proximity to the building and road/footpath “there is clearly the risk of significant damage to property or injury to person”. The survey concluded that “selective tree removal or thinning work would only increase the risk of windblow to the remaining exposed trees”. It is recommended that the plantation is felled and replanted within 12 months, and this should be used as an “opportunity to create a more attractive and sustainable landscape with enhanced biodiversity value”.

Conclusion
I am sad to see these trees being lost as they help define the area for 70 years, but it is hard for me to argue againt the report (based on my limited knowledge of trees). I admit the report is not unequivocal, but a strong case is made for removing the trees.

Please email me for a copy of the report: Scott.Arthur@Edinburgh.gov.uk

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