Woodland on Holmehill yesterday was trashed by the Stirling family and their contractors in a display of utter disregard for the environment, the law and the local community. I attended the scene later in the morning and spoke to David Stirling, son of the land owner and MD of AllanWater Homes who was presiding over the destruction by contractors. AllanWater has of course a long term interest in building on Holmehill.
Concerned members of Holmehill Community Buyout, Dunblane Community Council and local residents were in attendance, as was Stirling Council’s Tree Officer Ingrid Withington. There were also lots of children, including those who used the woods as an outdoor ‘wood school’ at St. Mary’s Primary. We persuaded contractors to leave after a lengthy stand-off. It was reported to me that members of the community had been verbally abused and in one case physically pushed earlier in the day.
Let’s be clear, Holmehill is a protected conservation area which means that any removal of trees from the site has to go through a consent process at Stirling Council. This process would normally last around 6 weeks and in this case a tree survey would have to be completed alongside detailed proposals for management of the site. What we saw yesterday was not ‘management’ it appeared to be a cynical clear felling of a woodland on the first day of the Summer holidays at a weekend to avoid enforcement action. We were lucky council officers were around at all to provide advice and support.
I will be pushing Stirling Council next week to now take the strongest enforcement measures possible against the landowners.
Now let’s turn to the law, the Police arrived in the morning and were persuaded that there had not been a breach of wildlife law as there were no nesting birds on the site. How the Police could ascertain this given the scale of the destruction is beyond me. Given the size of the site and the numerous bird surveys that have taken place, including one earlier this week, it appears that crucial evidence has been overlooked and now needs to be presented to the Police as soon as possible.
The contempt that the landowners have shown to our community needs to now be matched by a collective will to prevent further destruction.
Local residents I have spoken to will be monitoring Holmehill over the weekend for any signs of further activity. It is important that if any activity on the site resumes, including removal of already felled trees, that as many people as possible go to the site to bear witness and record evidence of potential breaches in the law and planning regulations.
If you wish to pass on your concerns to David Stirling, then AllanWater Homes has a show home which is open at Barbush 11-5 everyday. I’m sure they’ll be happy to pass on any messages…
This post originally appeared on the Stirling Greens website