Decision to remove Newry’s iconic Cherry Trees causes widespread anger

Newry Times News Posted by
info@newrytimes.com
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Community, Featured Story, News

The decision to remove Newry’s iconic cherry trees from along the canal bank has caused widespread anger in the local community.

The cherry trees in Newry are loved by the local community and visitors to the area – Photo: Jim Flynn

As Newry Times exclusively revealed yesterday, Newry and Mourne District Council confirmed proposals to remove the beautiful trees from along the canal bank through the heart of the city.

According to the Council, the decision to remove the trees is two pronged; some of the trees show signs of Bacterial Canker, widely believed to be one of the biggest killers of almonds, cherries, peaches, plums and nectarines.

The Royal Horticultural Society describes Bacterial Canker as a disease caused by two closely related species of bacteria that infect the stems and leaves of cherries.

It is one of the few important plant diseases caused by bacteria in the UK. Cankers begin to form in mid-spring and soon afterwards shoots may die back.

The second reason the Council gave for the removal of the trees is the Newry City Linkages Public Realm Scheme. The Scheme, which will cost a total of £2.4 million pounds, is aiming to start on-site soon and run until early 2014.

The works will be concentrated on the canal-side of Buttercrane Quay and Merchants Quay, between Dublin Bridge and Sugar Island Bridge.

The works will comprise the replacement of the existing canal boundary wall with a new decorative maritime railing and the removal of car parking spaces to facilitate the provision of a new wider granite paved/kerbed pathway.

New decorative street lighting, street furniture, tree planting and public art is also proposed as part of the scheme.

The cherry trees are one of Newry’s most beautiful sights when they blossom in Spring – Photo: Jim Flynn

A spokesperson for Newry Council confirmed to Newry Times the rationale behind the removal of the cherry trees.

The spokesperson stated, “As outlined during the consultation process on the concept design for the scheme, replacement of the existing cherry trees is an integral part of the proposed Newry City Linkages Public Realm Scheme.

The spokesperson confirmed that disease also played a key role in the decision making process. “While some cherry trees are in good condition, others show signs of Canker and some have died and been removed over the years.

“However, the main reason for their replacement is that they and their root structure are tied into the existing boundary wall foundations that are to be replaced with a Maritime Railing along the length of the Canal and to allow for the creation of a wider pathway.

The Council spokesperson added, “As part of the proposed scheme, new mature Hazel Trees matching those previously installed along Albert Quay will be placed along the length of the new path, closer to the road-edge, from Dublin Bridge to Sugar Island Bridge. These new trees will be fitted with LED lights for usage over the Christmas period.”

After we broke the story yesterday, Newry Times was inundated with emails and social media comments from the local community expressing their anger at the decision to remove what is easily one of Newry’s most picturesque sights.

On the Newry Times Facebook Page the reaction to the news was that of anger and disappointment.

One man wrote, “Disgrace…..they add a lovely character to the Canal Bank and would be an awful waste of resources. Does the council have a plan to re-plant them elsewhere/ treat them for their alleged “disease”? ….or do they intend to destroy them along with the character of Newry.”

A Facebook page set up in protest at the decision has received huge support in the local community

Another lady wrote, “These trees should be protected, they are a treasure to the town,” while another commented, “If they are diseased then fair enough but if it’s just to accommodate the contractor then no flipping way! Those Cherry Blossoms are the most beautiful thing in Newry!”

As well as expressing their anger on the Newry Times Facebook Page, members of the local community also created a new Facebook page in protest at the decision.

The page, which is called Stop Newry Council Removing The Cherry Blossoms Along The Canal’ proved to resonate with many locals and attracted nearly 900 new ‘likes’ in the first 24 hours since it went live.

Speaking yesterday to Newry Times, Sinn Fein Councillor Charlie Casey described the trees as one of the nicest natural features in Newry both when they are in full bloom and during the winter when they are lit up for Christmas.

“While the people of Newry have welcomed plans to open up the canal bank there is real public concern that this may be at the expense of this natural feature.

“Initially, councillors were told that the removal of the trees was to facilitate the work of the contractor, now we have been told that all of the trees are diseased and must be replaced with mature ones.

“I have asked that a full report on the condition of the trees be brought to the next Council meeting so that Councillors can satisfy ourselves that such a drastic measure is justified and I will be asking if the cost of their removal and replacement has been budgeted for in the contract,” he added.

More on this story:

Casey concern over plan to remove canal trees

Newry Council announce £2.4m city centre revamp


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