Historic trees to be felled for Dublin cycle route

Environmental and cycling groups oppose felling of Fairview Park trees planted in 1908

Trees along the roadway at Fairview with yellow ribbons. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Almost 50 trees in Dublin's Fairview Park, some of which are more than 100 years old, are due to be chopped down as part of the design of a new 2.5km cycle route from Clontarf to the city centre.

City councillors, environmental groups, and cycling organisations have said the trees should not be sacrificed to make way for the cycle path and an alternative solution should be found.

Dublin City Council said the proposed cycle path could be scrapped if councillors do not approve the designs for its development.

62 trees lining the roadway at Fairview Park are earmarked for felling. Photograph: Dave Meehan

A segregated cycle route from Clontarf to Amiens Street, providing a link to the Dublin Bay path which runs along to Sutton, was first proposed more than four years ago.


Off-road track

The route, from the seafront on Clontarf Road to the junction of Talbot Street and Connolly Station, had initially been proposed as an off-road track running in both directions on the east side of the road only. This would allow it to connect directly with the existing two-way off-road Dublin Bay cycle path.

However, in 2015 the council’s traffic department said a two-way path fully segregated from traffic would not be feasible because of the large number of side streets along the route. Instead it drew up plans for paths on both sides of the road. The paths would be “segregated cycle tracks where practicable” taking into account side roads and bus stops.

Detailed designs released for public consultation earlier this year indicated that 62 trees would be removed over the full length of the scheme and 160 new “semi-mature” trees would be planted.

However the vast majority of the trees designated for felling – 49 out of the 62 – are in Fairview Park. More than 2,000 people have signed a petition seeking the retention of the trees, some of which were planted in 1908. Local councillors and the Green Party are supporting the submission.

Independent city councillor Nial Ring said the Fairview trees were of "national and international" historical significance.

“Nationalist and unionist communities came together on Arbour Day in 1908 to plant these trees. Fairview Park was developed as a result of the planting of those trees, it would be an absolute disgrace if they were cut down.”

Arbour Day is an occasion marked internationally promoting the planting of trees.

Local Green Party representative Donna Cooney, said more than 80 per cent of people who responded to the public consultation on the path opposed felling the trees.

"Dublin City Council need to listen to local residents and sort out this situation. They are making a mess of this whole process. There are alternative designs which would allow the trees to remain in place, and would create a safer path for cyclists. The Dublin Cycling Campaign is even against the current design."

Senior council engineer Christopher Manzira acknowledged there had been overwhelming support for the retention of the trees and the development of a two-way cycle route, but he said the council had already carried out significant assessment of the scheme over a number of years and the current proposals were considered the best option.

“We have been discussing this particular scheme for the last four years and we’ll probably be talking about it again for the next eight years,” he said. “We are at a situation where we may have to reconsider the entire project”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times