The aftermath of the recent controversial felling of trees on the Balmakeith industrial estate rumbled on with yet another sequel at the River CC meeting on Wednesday night. The meeting heard from Stephanie Whittaker, who had attended a meeting with a representative from BEAR and a Highland Council Forestry officer, that it was agreed that if funding permitted it they would plant trees at the site, not in huge rows but in clumps. The planting would be of natural Scottish trees and there would also be some shrubs there.
Stephanie had also written to the planners and she read out the content of a letter she had received from Alan Todd, the Area Planning Manager, which revealed how the fate of the trees had been decided:
“It is indeed the case that in section of the planning application form relating to trees the applicant’s agent has ticked the No box in answer to the question are there any trees on or adjacent to the site. That was clearly not the case; however, every planning application is subject to a site visit by the planning officer so any deficiency in the completion of the form would be noted and the true position taken into account in our assessment of the application. In that particular case the condition of the trees was assessed as being relatively poor. Given that the plot is within an industrial estate it was considered reasonable to allow the applicant to fell the trees within the site in order to apply the more manageable operational area. The proposals for replacing planting in the south west corner of the site were also taken into account in the assessment. It is not therefore the case that correct procedures have not been followed.”
Stephanie went on to say that she had been told by the BEAR official that their contract was up for renewal and there was no guarantee that they would get the contract again and she outlined that this would have implications for any tree planting proposals. Further to that Stephanie said that Grant Stuart, the forestry officer, had said that now every time a planning application is made he asked for it to be sent to him.
Liz MacDonald, also present at the meeting said: “The council are keen to improve the eastern entrance to Nairn so I think we will keep an eye on this and try and get some planting done.”