Preservation order issued for trees in Rushpark

Rushpark estate.
Rushpark estate.

The Housing Executive has moved to assure residents it has no plans to fell mature trees in the Rushpark estate.

It follows concern that a recent safety operation would lead to greater felling in the area.

TUV Councillor David Hollis raised residents’ fears about the issue with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council after encountering a team of tree fellers on the main grass space between Beechwood Avenue and Woodland Drive.

Mr Hollis said: “They claimed that a small loose branch high up on a tree was in a dangerous position and could fall on anyone walking under it.

“They said the NIHE had instructed them to remove this branch. I pointed out that a similar branch on another tree was sitting in a dangerous position.”

Mr Hollis added that residents have noticed that all trees, including two Irish oaks over 700 years old, in the estate have been “marked” and demanded the housing authority “explain their intentions for one of the most beautiful housing estates in Northern Ireland”.

A NIHE spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive can confirm that no trees have been removed from the area of Rushpark, Newtownabbey.

“We received a call on December 20 to say that a dead limb on a tree was potentially unsafe for local residents, who regularly walked in this area. We inspected the tree and issued an order to have that particular branch removed. This was completed the next day.

“At no time did the Housing Executive issue orders to remove any other trees in the area and would not do so unless a qualified arborist had inspected and deemed a tree unsafe.”

Meanwhile, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council confirmed it had acted following receipt of a complaint.

A spokesperson for the local government authority said: “On December 21 the council received a complaint that mature trees within Rushpark were at risk of being felled.

“Council officers considered that the trees made a material contribution to the visual amenity of the area and immediately issued a Provisional Tree Preservation Order to protect the trees which were identified as being at risk.

“The effect of a Provisional Tree Preservation Order is to provide a blanket protection to all the trees within the identified area.

“The Provisional Tree Preservation Order allows the council a period of six months to consult with the owner of the land and nearby residents on the issue.

“In addition, it allows the council an opportunity to survey the individual trees to ascertain which trees should be included in a confirmed Tree Preservation Order. This process is underway. The council is not aware of any dangerous trees within the site.”