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Biodiversity plan for historic John’s Row as trees cut down


OUTCRYLocal residents complained when council officials showed up to cut down eight native trees along Westport’s historic John’s Row recently. Pic: Conor McKeown

Áine Ryan

MAYO County Council plans to engage with local residents about the development of a bio-diversity plan for historic John’s Row, Westport. The trees, whose felling was deferred after residents held a protest on Friday, September 11 last, were cut down successfully on Friday last, September 18.  
Speaking to The Mayo News  yesterday, Ms Catherine McConnell, Director of Services, said: “The assistance of the gardaí was needed to move an illegally parked car to secure the safe felling of one of the trees.
“In the coming weeks, the footpaths will be replaced and staff from the council will engage with the residents to develop a biodiversity based plan for the open space at the location of the felled trees,” Ms McConnell also said.
The Mayo News understands that the council has already engaged with some residents.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael Cllr Peter Flynn said that he and the other local representatives in the district would work to ensure that ‘suitable trees would replace the ones that have been removed’.
“We will also ensure that the area will be landscaped in a way that is maintenance free and sympathetic to this historic part of the town,” Cllr Flynn said.
John’s Row is one of Westport’s oldest streets and was named after John Browne, the first Earl of Altamont who was instrumental in the planned lay-out of the town by famous 18th century architect, William Leeson.
Speaking last week, Cllr Flynn said: “The council had a tree expert look at them and the advice was that the wrong trees were planted in the first place and that something more suitable should be planted. The path in places is too narrow for buggies or mobility scooters, so an alternative needs to be found.
“The paths could be replaced as they are but would be damaged [from root movements] again. It has been at least 15 years since the paths on John’s Row were done last. Doing nothing is also an option but how many more falls do we need to have to address the problem,” he added.