Ballysally residents furious over removal of trees

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Residents are furious that around 300 trees have been chopped down on a Coleraine housing estate.

One resident described the removal of the woodland at Burn Road in Ballysally as “an environmental disaster.”

A private developer is believed to have plans to buil homes on a 15 acre site, adjacent to Ballygallin Park and Hazeldene Drive and formerly owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

And last week construction workers tore down the trees, some of which were planted in the area 20 years ago.

Well known resident and community worker, Adrian Eakin, told The Coleraine Times: “Around 300 trees have been cut down, the whole woodland eradicated. It’s an environmental disaster.

“People here are very, very annoyed and outraged that this could be allowed to happen and without any consultation in the community whatsoever. The woodland added a quality of life to the estate and the loss of these trees with the impact on birds and wildlife makes it a serious ecological matter.”

Councillor George Duddy added: “Just two years ago a lot of money was spent by the Housing Executive to plant new trees on this site and in a matter of just two days young and semi-mature trees have been cut down - it’s shocking environmental vandalism.

“There really should have been a Tree Preservation Order on this site. I visited the scene after the Queen’s visit last Tuesday and spoke with residents.

“One of them told me he couldn’t quite believe what happened. It’s really a case of two fingers being put up to the community.”

PUP councillor Russell Watton described the felling of the trees as “wanton destruction.”

“This was done with no consultation with Ballysally Community Association, or to my knowledge, any other agencies. Trees planted by schoolchildren in a community project last year, were also felled. Is the developer going to liaise with the local community at all - what are the plans for the site?”

A spokesperson from the Housing Executive said: “The Housing Executive does not own this land it was sold to a private company in December 2015. The land was sold to Benamara Properties. We are not aware of any Tree Preservation Orders for the site.”

Former MLA Gregory Campbell was told in a written Assembly answer last year that the seven-hectare Burn Road site is part zoned for housing with the remainder zoned as Local Landscape Policy Area in the draft Northern Area Plan. It’s thought that the site could accommodate 120 housing units. The Coleraine Times contacted Benamara Properties for comment but did not receive a reply.