Tied to a tree: Councillor McCartan protects D4’s elders

Photo by Eoin Meegan, NewsFour. One of the trees in danger of being felled as part of the BusConnects proposed changes. Some of these trees are over a hundred years old.

Fine Gael Councillor Pat McCartan has recently been at the forefront of a movement to highlight the threat posed to trees along Route 14 of the proposed BusConnects programme. He has placed ribbons on the trees in danger of being felled across Ballsbridge and Donnybrook.

McCartan told me his motivation for doing this was that he wanted to make sure the community was as well-informed as possible so as to allow for submissions from the public to the National Transport Authority prior to the May 31st deadline. He had previously put out leaflets about the bus corridor but feels the ribbons work more powerfully as a “visual representation” of what is potentially at stake. The areas in which the trees are under threat specifically are on Pembroke Road, Merrion Road and Nutley Lane.

Central to McCartan’s concern is just how old some of these trees are: “On the Route 14, lots of the trees under threat aren’t even 20th century, they’re 120, 130 years old. It’s disingenuous of the NTA to say they will replace the old trees.” McCartan went on to elaborate on the difficulties of the BusConnects programme, saying that is a “good idea” but “it’s difficult trying to shoehorn these things in when you’re dealing with streets that are over 100 years old.”

Gráinne Mackin, director of communications with National Transport Authority, however, is keen to stress that they are only at the proposals and concept design stage. She points to the need to achieve a dedicated bus lane and segregated cycle lane, citing 140 million passengers per annum for buses and a 40 per cent increase in cycling, with congestion on the rise. She describes what needs to be done as a “balancing act”, with the reality being that to achieve the desired improvements in terms of bus and cycle lanes, roads have to be widened and footpaths pushed back which will impact upon some trees and gardens.

The NTA are looking for feedback from the community. Miss Mackin adds that they are particularly welcoming of proposals which offer: “ideas, options and alternatives.” The closing date for the next round of submissions from the public is the 31st of May. There will be another round in autumn, by which time a design team will have been appointed and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report will have been undertaken, something which is statutory for all plans submitted to An Bord Pleanála.  

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By David Prenderville