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Residents hit out at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Councilover removal of mature trees.

Local residents and environmental groups have hit out at Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s plans to cut down 20 mature trees from Killeaton Fields in Derriaghy.

The trees have a combined age of more than 1200 years and residents say it defies logic with global concerns over climate change.

Residents say that 20 mature trees have already been cut down and not replaced and that cutting down more trees will have a dramatic negative impact on the wildlife and biodiversity of the area.

A survey of families directly bordering the fields found that 87% supported a less drastic approach. They have requested that if the trees are to be removed that it should be done in a phased way with replacement planting over a period of years to prevent damage to the environment.

Residents say the Council is citing Health & Safety concerns as the main reason for the removal of the trees but they have not provided any evidence to suggest the trees are in any way dangerous to the public. Residents claim the move by the Council is part of wider plans for the area which they have not been consulted about.

Barry O’Donnell who has walked his dogs in the field every day for 40 years said: “Most people were alerted to this issue in August when the Council came in with a group who had no connection to Killeaton and planted new trees in a cluster. That effectively prevented people from using a significant part of the field. The sensible thing would have been to plant them around the border.”

Grainne Kielty commented “Our family have lived here for 32 years. The main reason we chose to live here is the field and the trees. What happens to the field impacts directly on all of the residents. We are not against improvements but they must be done in consultation with those who it will impact on, and that is us the local residents”.

Joan Agnew has lived in Killeaton for 60 years. She stated “After ratepayers contacted the Council about this issue we learned of other plans they had for the field that they had not even bothered to consult with us about. There is a history here with the Council attempting to force their plans onto us, but the generations who came before us have always protected this area and wanted the field to remain as an open space. It is our duty to ensure the beauty of the area is protected for future generations”

25 year old Conor Marin expressed disappointment. “In my opinion the Council has neglected the fields. If the trees are a health & safety risk then I would have to ask why the Council has allowed it to get to this stage.”

Patrick Cregg, a former Director of the Woodland Trust, said: “This appears to be rather drastic action by the Council. These trees are an important element of the landscape, reducing noise pollution and helping to absorb water as the area is prone to flooding during wet spells.

Patrick continued “This much cherished and well used open space is a source of pride and a valued resource in an area that has seen extensive new housing over the last decade. I would suggest that a more cautious and managed approach can be taken in respect of the trees at Killeaton fields.”

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