Council is criticised for ‘environental vandalism’

Residents in Castlerock are ‘appalled’ at the ‘environmental vandalism’ carried out by Coleraine Borough Council at Mussenden Temple
Mussenden Temple on the Downhill Demesne.Mussenden Temple on the Downhill Demesne.
Mussenden Temple on the Downhill Demesne.

It’s being claimed Council ‘butchered’ the shrubbery from the Gate Lodge at Mussenden Temple at the top of the Tunnel Brae to the pond with a tractor and mechanical hedge trimmer.

It’s understood that Council is responsible for the path and have, in the middle of the winter with no growth and severe frosts, scythed down theshrubbery on both sides of the path to leave “an unholy mess”.

A retired horticultural expert, who wished to remain anonymous and who lives in Castlerock, walks the route several times a week, has predicted that many of the shrubs which have been there for generations have been cut back so severely that that they will perish during the course of the winter.

“As for the wildlife, such as birds who would nest in the hedges and shrubs come the spring, that opportunity has been destroyed”, the expert told the Times. “The end result of the Council’s ‘environmental vandalism” is an absolute eyesore.”

A statement from Coleraine Borough Council said: “Coleraine Borough Council’s Environmental team carried out a risk assessment in view of the difficulties of cutting back trees and the shrubs all along the pathway at Escallonia Tunnel at Castlerock, taking into consideration both the public and the Parks staff carrying out the work at this location.

“Normally for low hedges a cutting bar would be used for this operation, however on assessment it was determined that the height of the hedge and partial canopy was too tall for this operation.

“Another option was the use of a chain saw to facilitate the stronger, thicker boughs of trees. As these two pieces of powered machinery carry a high risk factor level for the staff, pedestrians and other users of the pathway, it was decided to use machinery which carries much less risk, namely the tractor and flail.

“Council’s primary concern, after ensuring that the maintenance would benefit the long term future of the hedge, was the Health and Safety of all concerned. Parks staff aim to maintain the annual seasonal growth of this area in a safe manner and are currently carrying out maintenance of the path at the location.”