Councillor expresses shock at the budget for tree maintenance in Lisburn and Castlereagh

A £150,000 ‘trees budget’ has raised questions at a Northern Ireland council.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has one of the “lowest tree stocks in Northern Ireland”, according to the local authority’s parks officer – a status it is aiming to change.The latest LCCC corporate committee was presented with a total £1.5m ‘repair and renewal’ maintenance budget for the district, with tree maintenance by far the top expense.

The quarterly figures left Downshire West Alderman Owen Gawith in shock, saying: “I have looked through the budget figures and there seems to be a lot being spent on trees at a budget of £150k. It seems huge compared to everything else.”

However, council parks officer, Ross Gilanders highlighted the need to outsource third party advice and government department licences, which added to the bill.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters

He said: “The cost of cutting one tree down is between £2k and £3k and we try not to fell them, but there is a lot of pruning and maintenance. My staff are not tree experts.

“There needs to be surveys carried out for felling. Some trees can look healthy and then they blow over such as we had at the recent Castle Gardens event.

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“Other trees look solid, but then the centre of the tree is rotten, we can’t compromise on tree safety. In terms of other costs involved, that would include road closures with a licences from the Department for Infrastructure.

“We do have a large stock of trees, but Northern Ireland has one of the lowest stocks of trees in Europe, and LCCC has one of the lowest stocks in Northern Ireland, which we are looking to change.”