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Taxpayers’ €45,000 bill for ‘ecological destruction’ of Merlin Woods trees


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Taxpayers’ €45,000 bill for ‘ecological destruction’ of Merlin Woods trees Taxpayers’ €45,000 bill for ‘ecological destruction’ of Merlin Woods trees

The HSE spent €45,000 cutting down scores of trees in Merlin Woods, in what has been described as “an act of ecological destruction”.

Documents released to the Galway City Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act show that the contractor engaged by the HSE to fell trees in the east side woodland was paid €44,265 for the works, which took place last February.

And despite claims by the HSE that just 70 trees were felled due to the presence of ash dieback, local campaigners who work in the woods daily estimate that anything up to 200 trees were lost during the process.

Internal correspondence released to the Tribune shows that concerns were also raised in May of this year surrounding the procurement process for the works, with Liam Flannery of HSE West Capital and Estates flagging that headquarters was “querying this procurement for compliance”.

No response to his request for further information on the number of quotes received was released under FOI, but in a response to Caroline Oxley in the Office of the National Director for HSE Capital and Estates, he said: “There was an urgency to progress these works due to safety concern around trees with [ash] dieback. The hospital campus is used extensively by the public for walking at this time of year.”

Friends of Merlin Woods (FOMW) and local representatives have argued that far in excess of the 70 trees earmarked for felling were actually destroyed, and after stating that “approximately 70 trees were removed, none of which were 200 years old” in response to a query from Cllr Alan Cheevers, Business Manager Annette Greaney sought confirmation that this was correct.

No response to this request was recorded in the documents released under FOI.

At the time of the works, FOMW raised doubts over the practices engaged in by the contractor after heavy machinery was driven through the Meadows – an ‘EU Annex 1 habitat’ with protections in European law – causing significant damage to the ground.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the September 22 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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