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Highland Council under fire for threatening to fell veteran trees at site of new Ness Castle school

By Neil MacPhail

Kay Kelly with the sessile oak she wants to see spared.
Kay Kelly with the sessile oak she wants to see spared.

A mother has said she is willing to camp under an old oak tree to prevent it being felled as part of works to build a new Inverness school.

As well as the oak two large Scots pines are also under threat as part of work to make space for games pitches.

A swell of protest met the council’s planning application for a primary school and nursery at Ness Castle.

While the new school is welcomed, 14 objections to the tree felling have been submitted, with the council being accused of “wanton destruction.” Around 90 trees, mostly birch, but including beech and cherry, the old oak and two Scots pine, face being removed.

Retired Raigmore consultant Kay Kelly (51), from Crown, said: “I would be prepared to camp under the oak to stop it being felled.

“I know games pitches are important, but if one pitch was turned through 90 degrees, the oak could be saved.

“The expert who surveyed the site clearly stated that veteran trees, including this beautiful sessile oak, are important, and that their value to invertebrate creatures, birds and mammals should never be underestimated.

“Research shows the benefit of trees in particular and natural green spaces in general for improving attention, reducing stress and aggression, enhancing self-regulation and improving physical and mental health in children and adults.”

Several objectors claim the council is flying in the face of its own policies regarding climate change and habitat preservation.

Holm Community Council has also voiced concerns.

Dr Bridie Barnett, Inverness, said in her objection: “Highland Council declared a climate emergency last year. Now it is time to put your money and actions where your mouth is. Trees are an essential part of tackling climate change, a climate that we need to preserve for the sake of future generations.”

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