The Pitch vs The Pine – The Results

We had a momentous response to our campaign to save the 250 year-old Scots pine in Perth Academy’s grounds. More than 530 emails were sent to members of the Perth and Kinross Planning Committee in advance of their decisive meeting on the subject yesterday, and your effects were clearly felt in the debate!

 All the councillors were well briefed; those who supported saving the tree mentioned the huge public support they had for their position; whilst those who favoured approving the application for a sports pitch admitted that they had reached their position after carefully considering the representations they had received in opposition to the advice of their planning officials.

Sadly, when the issue came to a vote, the councillors split evenly – six to approve the application and six to refuse. The Convener of the Committee then used his casting vote to approve the application for a new all-weather sports pitch.

But it’s not over

A note of hope was struck in the Convener’s summing up, as he addressed the Academy pupils who lined the public gallery. He stressed that he was supporting the application as he did not believe there were any material Planning grounds on which he could refuse it. However, he recognised that the decision to cut down the tree was ultimately one for the school, and he suggested that a new application which would resite the pitch and save the tree could come forward.

So, now it comes down to the pupils, parents and teachers of the school. Can they convince the school’s senior management team, and the officials of the Education Department that they should not use the permission that they now have? Can they win the argument to go back to the drawing board? Can they work together to look at the various different options for alternative layouts of the playing fields so that everyone can feel involved and buy into the best solution for the future?

This now is an internal matter for the school and the Council, but we are sure that the school pupils will let us know of any progress, so please keep an eye on Woodland Matters for future updates.


We want to thank everyone who helped us by supporting the public campaign over the last five hectic weeks. You were amazing!


About Nikki Williams

Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Planning, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Pitch vs The Pine – The Results

  1. Pingback: What a year we have had campaigning for woods and trees | Woodland Matters

  2. Alan Meekings says:

    Is it possible to secure a Tree Protection Order for this particular tree, given that it’s already caught up in a controversial planning application? Perhaps someone who really understands TPOs can advise us?

    If not, are there any other ideas that may be helpful, Nikki?

    For instance, are the school management team only likely to be influenced by the views of pupils, parents and teachers? If not, who else may possibly influence their thinking?

    It seems like both parties now stand within a hair’s width of ‘winning’ (in the sense that the pitch can be built and the tree can be protected), if only the pitch can be marginally re-sited.

    This doesn’t sound to me like a hugely difficult or expensive task.

    • Nikki Williams says:

      Hi Alan. The Woodland Trust Scotland team worked with the school to campaign for an emergency TPO to be put in place but Perth & Kinross Council rejected the application. This is often a reality when the same Local Authority keen for a development is also the decision maker for if a TPO is required. This is when we went on to launch the wider public facing campaign in partnership with the pupils and parents.

      The pupils and parents continue to work with our team in Scotland to try to influence the final plans. Without doubt, if they feel a shift in power and a need for wider public engagement they will let us know & we will ask people to get involved again, but at the moment they feel there is some face to face negotiations needed between the school and themselves, which we are keen to respect. Watch this space…

      • Alan Meekings says:

        This is great news, Nikki.

        If both parties can ultimately agree on a way forward that that protects an exceptional tree and concurrently allows a sports pitch to be developed around it, then this seems to be a an ideal outcome.

        I get the sense from you that it would be best, at the moment, not to seek to badger the school about this issue, but just let the dust settle for a while.

        In essence, I think what you’re suggesting is that we should trust the pupils, parents and teachers to deliver a great outcome that will protect this exceptional tree and yet allow an all-weather pitch to be built alongside it.

        I just wish there might be a similar win:win solution regarding Oaken Wood in Kent.

  3. Rwthless says:

    I can’t help thinking that the architects designing the new pitch are fairly typical of the breed. They all seem to feel that they can default to a bare site before work is commenced.

    Then the contractors building the installation, whatever it is, suddenly find they absolutely HAVE to site their works office in the only area of the site that has a tree on it, so it has to go anyway. Get a TPO on the tree as soon as. Tighten up security on the site not allowing any chainsaws on the premises at any time or timber equipment or any ‘tree surgeon’ (murderer) without an escort of the chief tree supporter and all the children who can be spared to supervise, say “only while the school is in session, and when break times are being taken”.

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