100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
The Earth's Corr: Authorities have a lot to answer for over tree destruction in bird nesting season
Nature is collapsing around us while those in charge stand idly by - and even in some cases cause the…
Bluebell walks in Northern Ireland to explore
This weekend may be the last time to see them still in their full splendour this year
Andrew Bergin: Too many environmental experts airily dismiss the good work we farmers do for nature
The Festival of Farmland Biodiversity is on for the whole month of May.
The Earth's Corr: 11 things NI politicians can do to improve our lives and the climate
If Stormont don’t do something and fast, all we’ll have left is an industrial waste land bereft of any life…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Climate festivals and furniture upcycling: what are last year’s ECHO Environment Award winners doing now?
One winner held a protest attended by 1,000 people
Saving the regent honeyeaters of the Tomalpin Woodlands
The battle to save an endangered bird has brought focus onto an industrial development zone near Kurri Kurri.
Get all your news in one place
Latest National news:
Police appeal for help locating 13-year-old boy
Jameel was last seen wearing his school uniform on May 13.
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Strong start lifts Hunter Wildfires to victory over Warringah in Jack Scott Cup round 3
They next face Eastern Suburbs in the Sydney women's premier competition.
Australia election 2022 live: PM-elect Albanese wants to ‘change the way politics works’; Morrison speaks at church in Sydney
Follow all the day’s developments
VIDEO: Man stabbed during ugly Newcastle brawl
A man has been stabbed during an ugly brawl between two groups in Newcastle in the early hours of Sunday…
Liberal MPs yet to concede to teal independents as outcomes hinge on postal votes
Tim Wilson and Josh Frydenberg maintain theoretical path to victory despite being thousands of votes behind
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Barr says election win would see new approach to territory-Commonwealth relations
Mr Barr said he looked forward to working closely with the federal Labor government.
Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison have emptied the Liberals’ broad church
The party has been routed in its metropolitan heartland – the moderate wing has been decimated

Belfast people 'despair' after council remove 200m of Hawthorne trees in bird nesting season

By Shauna Corr

People across South and East Belfast are in "despair" after around 200m of native Hawthorne trees were removed during bird nesting season.

The "damage" on public land at the hands of Belfast City Council has been reported to police by Green Party councillor Brian Smyth.

He says it's further highlights the need for an independent environmental agency to hold authorities to account.

Read more: The Earth's Corr: 11 things politicians can do to improve our lives and climate

The East Belfast representative told Belfast Live: "I have been inundated with complaints from residents overnight about this.

"There is almost a feeling of despair and anger which links into the wider issue of the cutting of trees along the Lagan. People think that there's no consultation, nobody knows what's going on.

"People are seeing this and it's horrific looking.

"As a Green, I think there's huge reputational damage here. We are the custodians of this city.

"I have reported this to the PSNI as a potential wildlife crime - I want clarity on the matter particularly around consensus to disturb breeding birds. It's not just about you're not allowed to cut nests down - you're also not allowed to disturb those sites, at, in or near them.

"We need clarity here. I am livid. I am so angry at this because something has gone on and there has been no communication.

"It is a beautiful site. In terms of biodiversity it's one of the most important sites in South and East Belfast and people have gone up there in the last 48 hours and just seen clearance. I've spoke to a number of people and they are gutted and they are upset.

"My understanding is that this was preparatory works done for the extension of the greenway. As councillors we had no advance knowledge - nothing.

"From what I'm being told appropriate assessments and checks were carried out by relevant qualified people to make sure there was no disruption to nesting sites. But I have still made a report to the PSNI.

"We're asking for assurances that no further work is going to take place. We are going to meet officers up on site to make sure there are lessons here.

"This is a community that had to deal with the Lagan trees coming down and there's a bit of trauma. People are feeling helpless.

"I just think there's a disconnect and a lack of communication between the council and the people. The public are years ahead of organisations such as council and DfI on their expectations of environmentalism.

"People are moving rapidly and the basic level is that organisations such as council, DfI and government bodies stating, 'we are planning to do work and this is what we're doing'.

"They are saying there's no disruption but I have asked for the PSNI to investigate. They are putting a wildlife protection officer on it and I have asked for independent scrutiny of this.

Removed trees on top of bluebells (Save Our Lagan)

"If people think huge organisations can go ahead and do their own thing, then how can you expect buy-in to environmentalism, sustainability and biodiversity?

"This is a highly sensitive site and it is already dealing with the Hamptons application and it goes back to a lot of local people being gravely concerned about this.

"It's an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of eight woodlands left in this part of the town and here we are just, business as normal when this city council has already declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

"How do you replace this? I am really angry here at the lack of foresight.

"Government bodies need to be having conversations with citizens."

All scrub cutting, hedge cutting, laying and coppicing operations are banned by DAERA during bird nesting season - which is March 1 to August 31 - to avoid harming birds, their nests and eggs.

Any such work can be considered a criminal offence under Wildlife (NI) Order 1985.

A Save Our Lagan spokesperson said this recent removal of trees in Belfast has resulted in the "loss of a 200m by 6m swathe of mature, dense and bird and insect-rich hedgerow destroyed along the Lagan in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

Since the trees have been cut down in May, they have questioned whether this is "an offence"?

"Two sections either side of the already under pressure Hampton Park development have been removed, possibly to link Galwally and Annadale avenues with a 'Greenway'," they added.

"The Galwally site damage is particularly provocative as the chippings from the destroyed trees were strewn on a bluebell patch."

Bluebells are protected in Northern Ireland through The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

A statement from Belfast City Council said: “Council is currently progressing plans for Phase 2 of the Lagan Gateway project, building on the success of Phase 1, which included a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, connecting Stranmillis to Annadale. This next phase will see the development of additional connections from Lagan Lands East at Annadale through to Belvoir Forest Park, to further encourage and enable more sustainable travel.

“Site investigation works were planned to be undertaken at Lagan Lands East to inform the final designs for Phase 2. Unfortunately, these required the removal of a small area of hedgerow, in order to enable these essential works to be carried out.

“These plans were developed with a certified ecologist, and inspections undertaken, in accordance with the relevant legislation, to ensure there were no active nests within the small area of hedgerow which has been removed.

“Council has agreed to pause the planned site investigation works, in order to undertake further engagement around this project.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Police received a report of trees being cut in the Annadale Embankment area of south Belfast this afternoon (Friday 13 May). Enquiries are ongoing."

Read more: No environmental impact assessments on tree felling along Lagan

Read more: Residents 'will work in shifts' as they protest against tree removal in Belfast

To get the latest breaking news straight to your inbox, sign up to our free newsletter.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
The Earth's Corr: Authorities have a lot to answer for over tree destruction in bird nesting season
Nature is collapsing around us while those in charge stand idly by - and even in some cases cause the…
Bluebell walks in Northern Ireland to explore
This weekend may be the last time to see them still in their full splendour this year
Andrew Bergin: Too many environmental experts airily dismiss the good work we farmers do for nature
The Festival of Farmland Biodiversity is on for the whole month of May.
The Earth's Corr: 11 things NI politicians can do to improve our lives and the climate
If Stormont don’t do something and fast, all we’ll have left is an industrial waste land bereft of any life…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Climate festivals and furniture upcycling: what are last year’s ECHO Environment Award winners doing now?
One winner held a protest attended by 1,000 people
Saving the regent honeyeaters of the Tomalpin Woodlands
The battle to save an endangered bird has brought focus onto an industrial development zone near Kurri Kurri.
Get all your news in one place