Tree felling sparks councillors' fears
CONCERNS have been raised by a community council over unauthorised tree felling in the Deveron Valley area.
Alvah and Forglen Community Council has raised issues after around 80 trees were cut at a site adjacent to Burnend Cottage, Forglen.
The land was subject to a planning application made by Colin Duncan to build a house there.
Councillors on the Banff and Buchan area committee voted 4-3 in favour of the application.
The Forestry Commission has investigated the site and it has said that its policy advises Aberdeenshire Council that compensatory planting has to take place.
Its investigation found that of the trees that were cut down 79 were viable stumps, two were dead or rotten and there was no indication of Dutch Elm disease as had been thought at the site.
The council's planning department had recommended to the committee that the application be refused due to being contrary to policies.
The loss of woodland was one of the reasons highlighted. Planning officer Rory Hume said: "The proposal would be contrary to policy PR1 on the basis that it would result in the loss of an area of woodland without an overriding reason of public social or economic benefit being derived from the development.
"The Forestry Commission has identified that the area has significant biodiversity value, and it remains a woodland in spite of the previous unlicensed felling operation on the site, which has subsequently been replanted."
In the Forestry Commission investigation it detailed that the applicant had agreed to replant trees on the site.
A Forestry Commission spokesman said: "Any proposed tree felling that might be outlined as part of a planning application is decided by the local authority in its consideration of that application. In such cases, our role is to remind the local authority that the Policy on the Control of Woodland Removal should be taken into account.
"This policy states that in the majority of cases where felling is authorised as part of planning decision there will be a presumption that compensatory planting will take place."