In the interest of public safety The Highland Council is carrying out tree felling and tree surgery on Culloden Drive, Inverness during the week beginning Monday 13th April.
The works which are expected to take around three weeks are beginning carried out by Skye-based West Contract Services.
Prior to the tree works the Council carried out a bat and squirrel survey with Garve-based specialist contractor M. Robinson. A total of 77 trees were climbed by a team of four specialists. No hibernating bats were found, but climbers identified four trees with cavities which might be used by bats. Scottish Natural Heritage will now be consulted for agreement on the manner in which tree works may proceed on these four trees. No squirrel dreys are present although red squirrels are known to be active in the area.
The works are being carried out as a result of a professional tree survey implemented by James Clark of Drumnadrochit on behalf of the Council in 2007. The results of the survey showed that Culloden Drive holds around 270 mature trees. Twenty nine trees were identified as presenting significant risks to public safety which could only reasonably be mitigated by felling. This number includes a small proportion where Dutch Elm Disease is affecting the tree and other reasons for felling are:
• attack by fungal pathogens causing rot and structural decay;
• structural faults caused by the nature of the tree growth;
• structural weakness due to over-maturity; and
• damage by fire due to vandalism.
In addition a further 66 trees were identified requiring some tree surgery work on the crowns to reduce deadwood that could become unsafe. Branches will also be cleared around street lighting to improve lighting illumination.
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee said: “Ongoing management of Culloden Drive woods is to keep it both safe for public use and secure as a woodland site in the long term.
“Highland Council owns the Drive and has legal responsibility for the property, including the trees. We must take reasonable steps to ensure the management of risk and the safety of people accessing our property. These responsibilities underpin our programme for felling and tree surgery.
He added: “The Drive will benefit significantly from the tree works programme. The over-mature trees at present are limiting the growth of new species due to lack of light at ground level. The tree works will ensure that regeneration can be managed in such a way to secure the future of a variety of tree species – a very effective investment to secure the long term of the woodland.”
Speaking on behalf of Highland Council Ward Members of Culloden and Ardersier, local resident Councillor John Ford said: “The safety of the public is paramount. Culloden Drive is considered a high public risk due to its location next to a community centre, its status as a safer route to school for Culloden Academy and Duncan Forbes Primary School and its designation as a national cycle route. We are confident that the works planned will improve public safety in terms of making the trees safe, enhance street lighting illumination and create a sustainable future for the woodland environment.”
The Council has consulted with Smithton and Culloden Community Council and arranged a site visit with Council Officers for community council members and interested members of the public.
Forestry Commission Scotland and Historic Scotland have agreed to the works on the basis of site safety. Although the site carries no statutory designations relevant to Scottish Natural Heritage, the Council has consulted SNH in relation to protected species, such as bats, squirrels and badgers. There are no badgers on the site. The site is part of the Culloden House designed landscape which is included in the “Inventory of Gardens & Designed Landscapes in Scotland”. Historic Scotland, who produces the Inventory, is content that the works are appropriate in terms of tree management and for the role which the drive plays today.
In order to manage the movement of children on Culloden Drive as a Safer Route to School, the Council avoided scheduling the felling work during the Easter holidays when the presence of children on site might be less predictable and less controlled. The works are planned to commence after the Easter break.
Letters were sent to Culloden Academy and Duncan Forbes Primary for teachers and parents providing information on the work programme. Parts of Culloden Drive will be closed for some days and disruption will be kept to the minimum possible, with alternative routes identified.