EDINBURGH’S disastrous trams project has claimed another victim – dozens of mature trees in some of the city’s most prestigious streets.
Furious residents, already reeling from traffic delays and the $1bn bill for the project, watched in horror as tram workers chopped down the trees.
The trees – some of them a century old – lined Coates Crescent and Atholl Crescent – in Edinburgh’s upmarket west end.
Dance teacher Patricia Douglas MBE, a resident of nearby Walker Street, said: “I am desperately disappointed about this, and in fact, everything about the trams.
“I have spoken to hundreds of people and not one of them has wanted trams. I cannot believe this is acceptable.”
The trees have been removed so the road can be widened to build a tram stop.
The city council says the work is necessary and that the trees will be replaced with semi-mature ones in two years’ time, but residents were distraught to see contractors start taking them down earlier this week.
Steven Livingston, 49, a quantity surveyor who lives in nearby Manor Place, said: “They’ve just chopped down the old trees, it’s incredible. I’ve spoken to one of the workmen to ask him why, and he says I’m about the hundredth person to ask him that question and he said it is for the tram works.
“These trees, a lot of them are blossom trees, and it was just so lovely in the spring time. There are ones that were 700 to 800mm in diameter, which would maybe make them 100 years old, I would guess.
“It’s just such a loss, it’s forever. They’re going to be replaced by a metal structure now I would imagine, to take the overhead cables.”
But residents were warned about the works taking place in a letter issued by Edinburgh Trams.
The letter read: “The installation of the Shandwick Place tram stop requires the carriageway to be widened on both sides of the road, resulting in the loss of the existing footways.
“These will be replaced on the other side of the boundary wall. Overhead line equipment poles will also be installed.
“In order to facilitate these works, it is necessary to remove the trees in the gardens nearest to the bus lane. 23 trees will be removed from these sections and will be replaced with 37 trees once the construction works have been completed in 2013.
Dance teacher, Ms Douglas added: “Twenty-three trees are being removed and the new ones that will be replaced in 2013 will be incomparable.”
Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the council’s transport convenor, defended the tree massacre.
“To install a tram stop requires both the road to be widened on both sides- removing the pathways and moving them behind the existing walls on Atholl Crescent, where the trees are currently situated,” he said.
“In total 23 trees will be removed, but we will be replacing them with 37 new trees once the construction works are complete, meaning the area will be even greener than it is today.”