The pitch vs the pine – update

More news following July’s success in getting Perth & Kinross Council to defer plans to cut down a historic 250-year old Scots pine tree, which stands as a memorial to two children who died in a tragic accident.

Things have moved on – the call for the tree to be given a Tree Protection Order has been turned down and its fate is likely to be decided on 21 August. You can give this tree a voice by writing to councillors in Perth and Kinross to encourage them to save it. Details are at the end of this post. 

A Tree Protection Order

Unfortunately, the application for a Tree Preservation Order for the tree has been rejected by Perth & Kinross Council.

The Council admits that the tree does have historic and biodiversity value. However, they go on to claim that this is outweighed by the fact that there are “many high quality trees” in the area, so the loss of this individual tree will not have a significant impact.

This is no lonesome pine... with your help

This is no lonesome pine… with your help

We strongly disagree with this assessment; none of the local trees are of the same sort of status as this veteran. Also, much of its visual amenity value lies in the distinctive and striking element that it adds to the local landscape as a lone tree.

We’d also argue that 2011 Scottish Government Planning Guidance updates the key criteria for TPOs so that not just visual amenity should be considered the “primary factor”, but also amenity value and cultural and historic significance. This is something which Perth Council has not yet recognised. 

Return of the Planning Committee

This means that when the Council’s Development Management Committee meet again on 21 August they will have to decide whether to save this tree by rejecting the plans, or to sacrifice it.

We hope that they will have in their report this time a detailed assessment from the Council’s Tree and Woodland Service on the health, condition and value of the tree. But we are also confident that the pupils and supporters of the school will continue to make their case for saving the tree as loudly as possibly.

Take Action

You can give ancient Scots pine a voice and help to influence the council’s decision by writing to councillors to encourage them to save the tree.  

If you’re a local resident – living in Highland, Strathallan, Strathtay, Kinross-shire, Almond and Earn, Perth City North or Perth City South wards – you can contact your local Committee members by August 20th to make your views clear.

If you aren’t based in these wards you can still help: contact the Convener of the committee and urge him to ensure the advice from the Tree and Woodland service is taken into account. 

Thank you!

Charles Dundas, Public Affairs Manager

About Austin Brady

Director of Conservation (UK) at the Woodland Trust
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14 Responses to The pitch vs the pine – update

  1. Reblogged this on Wood Elf Weekly and commented:
    An interesting argument – Perth & Kinross Council admit that a 250 year old Scots Pine ‘does have historic and biodiversity value…..[but] this is outweighed by the fact that there are “many high quality trees” in the area, so the loss of this individual tree will not have a significant impact.’ So that’s OK then. Read more here

  2. Rwthless says:

    I don’t believe the tree should be felled. If they fell it to put a sports ground there, the door is open for an alternative use for the land. Housing for local needs has a high priority, but if there is a TPO in place, they can still use the land for sports. Maybe not rugby, but Athletics, or any other sport. It’s time sports pitches had some interesting obstructions in them. Everyone knows referees are blind anyway!

    • Charles Dundas says:

      Ruth, I am not sure that a change of use would take place if the application succeeded since it remains part of the school (Class 10) but it’s not as if they are short of land in the school grounds. There are something like 6 sports pitches already laid out across their playing fields! Why not just upgrade one of those existing pitches instead of creating a new one?

  3. musicalsam says:

    I am bound to wonder, as a non-resident, what the school’s population feels about this? As much as I feel compelled, as an outsider member of Woodland Trust, to urge the council to save the tree, I would not want locals to despise us for judging without understanding the situation well.

    • Charles Dundas says:

      Sam, I think that it illustrates the case to say that the pupils have been able to collect more than 500 petition signatures against the proposal, and two teachers actually came to speak out against the development at the last Council planning committee. The only individual who I have heard is in favour of sacrificing the tree is the – now retired – headmaster. Everyone else seems to think that a compromise that keeps the tree and shifts the pitch a little would be possible, We now need to convince the Planning Committee of the same.

  4. Andrew Davidson says:

    What is the story behind the tragic accident? The action of cutting down this ancient tree seems to be just the easy option. Surely any need for a playing pitch can be modelled around the tree?

  5. Sandie says:

    I have signed Andy’s 38 Degrees petition and hope everyone who has taken the trouble to comment here will do so too. It is a pity that all our individual outpourings weren’t put to the Oaken Woods Inquiry while it was still ongoing, it would have done more good than repining after the event. Well done Andy for doing this – it’s our last chance.

    However, we can do something positive now to try to save the magnificent 250 year old Scots Pine which is also due for destruction by small minded people who assume trees don’t matter. I am writing to Perth & Kinross Council and if we all do the same they may think twice about cutting it down. We have got to change the mind-set that sees trees, even historic veterans like this Scots Pine, as expendable.

  6. Nick Sandford says:

    We need to protect magnificent old trees like this one. Surely an alternative location could be found for the sports pitch.

  7. Surprised and saddened to hear this, I was in Scotland a couple of weeks ago and with a group so proud of its Scot’s Pine. I heard it suggested that the Scots pine is been thought of for Scotland’s national tree and I ask with Andy above, what can the the council’s reasons be?

    • Charles Dundas says:

      Thanks Cathy. This is an unfortunate case of the Council wanting to do something good – improve the school’s facilities, and avoid disturbing neighbours – but in trying to do that they have found themselves with the unintended consequence of losing an ancient tree. However once the planning application was submitted there was no room for negotiation or compromise and we now have to campaign hard to convince them that this is not a sacrifice worth making. Thanks for your support. – Charles

  8. Andy White says:

    What can the council’s reasons for cutting it down possibly be?

    • Charles Dundas says:

      See my answer above Andy, the tree simply suffers from being in an inconvenient place from the Council’s planners’ point of view, so they feel that it needs to go to make their job easier. – Charles

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