COUNCILLORS have given their backing to call for the appointment of a Tree Protection Officer whose role would be to advise both the local authority staff and the general public on tree planting and cutting.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) – who raised the motion at the first meeting of the new term of the local authority – said that trees are a hugely important element of our visual landscape and that the Council doesn’t have a tree policy in place. She also added that they have a critical role in biodiversity.
‘Members of the public could benefit by getting advice about trees and the local authority have a pivotal responsibility in maintaining our trees,’ said Cllr D’Alton.
Cllr Danielle Twomey (SF) supported the motion and said it would solve all issues raised previously in the chamber about the subject of trees.
‘If a tree is felled then replanting should take place,’ said Cllr Twomey.
Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG) said she had noticed a lot of culling and felling of trees in her district in recent months and said that it was important to have someone in-house who makes these decisions.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said there were glaring inconsistencies when it came to the protection of trees and said that ‘professional advice’ is critical.
‘Someone with expertise who can tell if a tree needs to be felled would be welcomed and I’m very happy to support it,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said that letters from the Council to landowners regarding overhanging branches needs to be clearer.
‘It needs to be made very clear that these notices are for overhanging branches only and that it’s an offence to fell healthy trees,’ said Cllr Coleman.
Cllr Anthony Barry (FG) said it was important for the Council to look at the planting process and the type of trees being plants.
‘Flashy numbers don’t add to the biodiversity of an area and we should be looking at planting native and indigenous trees,’ said Cllr Barry.
Newly-elected Green Party councillor Alan O’Connor pointed out the health benefits of living near trees, while Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said it would be important to look at the powers of enforcement such an officer would have.
County Mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said it was a fantastic motion and said it was good to see them start the new Council term on a ‘green agenda.’
‘I think the idea of a Tree Protection Officer is very good and it’s all about getting the ball rolling, and creating a discussion about this is good,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said the motion is appropriate and there is a need to raise awareness and he said it should be referred to the Environment Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) for further discussion.