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Tree fans in chains vow

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Tree fans in chains vow

TREE loving residents in Dumfries and Galloway communities have vowed to chain themselves to trees if necessary to protect them.

And one Wigtownshire councillor said she would join them if need be.

This comes after it was revealed that tree preservation orders (TPOs) have been put on hold by Dumfries and Galloway Council for more than a year – meaning that historic mature trees in this region didn’t have the same protection as before.

However, councillors have now unanimously agreed to reinstate public TPOs, and explore ways to provide more resources to the council’s planning department so that an officer is dedicated to handling these orders.

Stranraer and the Rhins Councillor Ben Dashper, who tabled a motion for action on the trees, got straight to the point at the full council meeting, saying: “I like trees.”

The young councillor then went onto argue how lessons must be learned following the illegal felling of a centuries-old famous Sycamore Gap Tree in Northumberland in September this year.

He said: “TPOs are one of the best ways that we can protect our trees, and it would be a shame if there was a repeat of the situation in Cumbria with the Sycamore Gap Tree.

“People who live in our communities know their trees inside out, they know their environment, and it’s really important that there is an active mechanism in place for them to voice concerns.”

He then asked for all councillors to back his call for TPOs to be reinstated in Dumfries and Galloway.

Mid Galloway and Wigtown West Councillor Katie Hagmann seconded the motion, saying: “There’s been mention of the Sycamore Gap Tree, and certainly within ward two I’ve been contacted by constituents who were so concerned about trees that they did want to attach themselves via chains.

“I said, ‘I’m happy to support you – and if it means I need to come down there and attach myself too, I will support you’.

“In Creetown where I live, the Ferry Thorn tree is a significant tree that marks where the ferry used to across to Wigtown.”

Councillor Hagmann then referred to other ancient woodlands in the region which are considered an invaluable asset by residents.

“Clearly there is a desire from our community to highlight that trees are really, really important,” she said.

“As Ben said, I too like trees – and I want to protect them.

“We have an ability to do that through the legislation and through tree preservation orders.”

See farming, page 26

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