The Chair of the Planning Committee Martyn Perkins MHK has commented on public concern over plans, approved by the committee, to remove 25 Elm trees in St Marks to improve road safety.
A petition demanding the gov overturn the approval, created by Devon Watson, has reached over 8,300 signatures in under 24 hours.
Mr Perkins said: ‘Trees are a vital part of our Island landscape and are rightly cherished by our community. The Isle of Man has robust legislation in place to protect trees and woodlands, and a number of stringent conditions must be met for approval to be granted to remove a tree. I fully understand and appreciate the public’s concern over the proposal to remove 25 Elm trees in St Marks, however the request centres on improving road safety, which the Planning Committee cannot ignore.’
‘The planning application seeks to improve vehicular access to the properties off of the Braaid Road. It follows a previous collision at the junction and reports of several near misses. Removing the trees and creating a new access is necessary to significantly improve visibility and the safety of that section of road, reducing the risk of a serious accident. Of the 25 trees to be removed, seven are of good condition and 18 are of poorer quality.
‘The loss of any tree is always regrettable, especially Elms, however, following input from the forestry team, the applicant has made changes to their application specifically to minimise the number of trees to be removed. The vast majority of the avenue will be unaffected, with well over 300 trees remaining. There will be substantial compensatory tree planting which, over the next few years, will achieve a net biodiversity gain for the area.’
As reported this morning, Manx Wildlife Trust has hit out at the decision to remove what is believed to be one of Europe’s last elm tree tunnels. MWT said the trees are ‘registered woodland with trees over 100 years old’.
And added: ‘The proposal to create large visibility splays on both sides of the road were approved in May. The Isle of Man has the largest remaining field elm populations in Europe, and so is considered internationally important. Elm tree lined roads would once have been a common sight throughout the continent. Now one of the last could soon be felled.’