More than 20 trees felled on Griffith Avenue deemed ‘public safety hazard’

Trees, some more than 100 years old, removed near Cairn Homes site due to disease, council says

Tree stumps where London planes were removed by Dublin City Council, along Griffith Avenue in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Tree stumps where London planes were removed by Dublin City Council, along Griffith Avenue in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

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More than 20 large trees, some more than 100 years old, are being felled on Griffith Avenue in Dublin as they represent a public safety hazard due to disease and decay, Dublin City Council has said.

The trees are mostly London planes, which have lined the avenue since it was first laid out in the 1920s. While 24 trees are currently being removed, more could face the chop in future.

The council said the decision to cut down the trees was based on the advice of a consultant arboriculturist.

“The arboriculturist report highlighted that 24 trees are exhibiting significant decays, fungal infections, structural defects and cavities and cannot be allowed to remain on this busy boulevard with high levels of pedestrian footfall,” it said.

“This work is being scheduled immediately in advance of the reopening of schools and the onset of annual storms and weather warnings.”

Laboratory test are under way to assess if a disease, which specifically effects London plane trees, is spreading on the road.

“Several London planes might be affected by the fungi Splanchnonema platani, which cause the Massaria disease,” Dublin city tree officer Ludovic Beaumont said.

The disease “causes large lesions on the upper surfaces of major branches and branch dieback, and can cause branches to break off the tree and fall,” he said.

“Further laboratory analysis of pruned branches will confirm if the disease is present on Griffith Avenue.”

Development

Around one quarter of the trees being removed are close to Griffith Wood, a Cairn Homes development of 377 apartments and eight houses at the Marino end of the avenue.

Green Party councillor Donna Cooney said she had queried whether these trees had been removed at the request of the developer.

“The original planning application looked for some of these trees to be moved, but was then scaled back following opposition,” she said.

“I have had several people contacting me suggesting the removal of the trees is to do with the new cycleway, which it is not, but the situation hasn’t been helped by the lack of information from the council.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre Heney said she only found out last Friday that felling was to begin on Monday.

“The residents have been treated very shabbily in terms of communication. There was no notice given that this was going to happen, and there is no reason for that,” she said.

“They were there for 100 years, I don’t think they needed to come down so quickly. It sends out the wrong message, particularly in August, that something is going on. People will think it’s related to Cairn, when it was the city council that had the assessment done on the trees.”

Cairn Homes said it did not request the removal of the tree and that the move was “not connected to the development”.

Residents

Catherine Hazlett, chairwoman of residents’ group All Hallows Area Association, said the council could have avoided a lot of difficulties had it communicated with residents.

“People had seen the tree survey going on a while ago, but we heard nothing more until Sunday and that was from Deirdre Heney, not the council officials,” she said.

“It was a big missed opportunity by the council in terms of communication. People are regretful to see the trees removed but also they understand trees don’t live forever.”

Ms Hazlett said she hoped the council would liaise with residents in the ongoing management of the trees and replanting programme.

The council said it would engage with residents with regard to replanting later this year.

“Replacements will be predominately London plane trees to preserve the integrity of the boulevard to the road side,” it said.