Updated: Sep 8
Navan Road residents have launched a protest against imminent plans by the NTA to slash 140 trees from the area as part of a new BusConnects project. Local members of the Navan Road Community Council have tied yellow ribbons around the trees. One resident Stephen O'Loughlin, created an online petition to "Save the Trees on the Navan Road from destruction," received 643 signatures of support:
'There are other options and we ask that the trees are protected and all options are discussed with local residents.'
Navan Road Community Council made the following statement:
‘Our avenue of trees is looking really good at present but can you imagine what it could look like if a large proportion of these trees were to be felled? We have always in our conversations with the NTA stated that we will not accept any tree removal. These trees contribute to our Quality of Life. Let’s keep it that way! And, let us have a transport system that works for the pedestrian, the cyclist, the commuter, the elderly and the disabled.’
The Navan Road Community Council (NRCC) has also tied yellow ribbons around trees lining the road, which forms the spine of the NTA’s core bus corridor from Blanchardstown to the city centre.
The Council also made the following points:
• The removal of up to 150 trees from the Navan Road in Dublin as part of the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) BusConnects project will damage quality of life and climate change goals.
• The Navan Road based council said despite attending two public consultation meetings on the bus corridor and having three meetings with NTA representatives since 2019, it was unable to secure adequate information on the tree removal programme.
“These trees are a major component of the quality of life of our area and community and they also contribute positively to the reduction of climate change impacts through the absorption of carbon monoxide,” she said.“Great initiatives have happened since the start of the pandemic: new cycle lanes, space to eat outdoors, restrictions on where the car can move.”
The size and species of the proposed trees was important due to their roll in mitigating the effects of traffic on the Navan Road, an exit route from the M50, and one of the main arterial routes to the city from west Dublin and the northwest traffic using the M3.
The authority should employ similar creativity to achieve its goals “without removing our avenue of trees leading to our city”, she said. Many residents had been disenfranchised by consultation moving online over the last 16 months, Ms Allison said, adding that the project should be deferred until full public consultation could resume.
At least 140 trees to be felled
An NTA spokeswoman stated to the Irish Times that the number of trees likely to be felled on this section of the route “may be up to approximately 140”. The NTA would plant “an equivalent number of semi-mature trees along the corridor to offset the impact,” she said. “Overall the route, once upgraded, will benefit from both an improved walking, cycling, and public transport infrastructure, and an enhanced urban realm treatment.”
Applications for the 16 bus corridors are due to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála later this year.
This BusConnects consultation process (for example in Galway city in 2020) is non-statutory, and therefore, non-binding on the Transport Authority, it is free to alter the BusConnects plans as it chooses later.
2005 Navan Road Tree Felling
However, this is not the first time that the Navan Road has seen large-scale tree removal to facilitate development. In 2005, numerous trees were removed at the former Navan Road race-course large scale destruction of trees on the Navan Road beside the new development of apartments at the Phoenix Park Racecourse.
The planning permission granted to the developer, gave permission to put in an entrance to the development at the Navan Road, However the developer removed a large fringe of birch trees, planted at the time of the building of the Navan Road By-pass. Also, long standing, mature trees on the race-course lands were also felled.
This removal left "this side of the Navan Road looking like it has lost three of its front teeth. The apartment blocks, built as angular boxes, have been left exposed and very close to the edge of the road.” (Former Deputy and Minister Joan Burton).
An Bord Pleanála had specifically referred to the surrounding fringe of trees and green areas alongside the Navan Road as being an essential visual break between the built-up Navan Road, Dublin 7 area and the new town of Blanchardstown and Castleknock.
2007 Tree Felling for Phoenix Park Railway
There was also further destruction and clear felling of a very large amount of trees on both sides of the Navan Road fringing the old Phoenix Park Racecourse in 2007. The ostensible reason for this destruction of trees was the construction of a new railway station for the Phoenix Park racecourse development.
“This was an attractive tree lined road which marked the entrance to Fingal and the break between Dublin City and Fingal County Council and Blanchardstown. It was specifically identified for protection and strengthening during all of the discussions on the Phoenix Park Racecourse development. Thousands of local residents objected to the Racecourse development and demanded the protection of trees and landscape at this location given its sensitivity.” (Deputy Burton).
So much for processes of consultation involving projected developments! This BusConnects consultation process (for example in Galway city in 2020) is non-statutory, and therefore, non-binding on the Transport Authority, it is free to alter the BusConnects plans as a matter of course.